A man wanted for stealing a truck tried driving in the Cascades to escape police.
A 23-year old man in a stolen truck lead law enforcement officers on a 25-mile chase Friday afternoon before being taken into custody near Monument Peak, 2 miles west of Detroit Lake.
The case started when a Stayton resident reported that his dark-blue 1999 Ford F150 truck had been stolen from a parking lot in Stayton. The owner had left his keys in the unattended truck for five minutes and it was gone when he returned. He reported the theft to Officer Corbin Lantz of Stayton Police Department.
At 12:53pm, Lantz issued an alert to Marion County Deputies to be watching out for the stolen truck. Minutes later, the brother of the victim spotted the truck on Old Mehama Road near Highway 22 and called 911.
Sr. Deputy Chris Bangs encountered the truck coming at him from the opposite direction on Old Mehama, but as he turned to stop him, the suspect accelerated and drove at speeds that were very unsafe for the conditions. Bangs made the decision not to endanger other by chasing him. He reported the sighting to other deputies.
Deputies converged on the area and continued searching. Approximately an hour later, Sr. Deputy Kevin Ely spotted the truck on Gates Hill Road in Mill City. He began a chase that took officers and deputies eastbound through the Lyons, Gates and Mill City before he turned south toward Monument Peak. The truck reached speeds of 65-70 mph in the small rural cities.
Stayton Police, Oregon State Troopers, Linn County Deputies and Forest Service Officers assisted in the 40-45 mph chase that traveled many unmarked, snow-lined gravel fire roads before coming to an end near the top of the 5000 foot mountain.
While the truck was still moving, the driver jumped from it and quickly ran into some nearby woods. The truck continued off the roadway and struck a tree. Property inside the truck indicates the suspect had been involved in area thefts.
Deputies and Officers established a perimeter and called for a canine unit. Deputy Jason Bernards and his K-9 Rolo arrived and initiated a search. After tracking the suspect for about half a mile, Rolo found him hiding, face down, in a small cave near a creek. He refused commands to surrender and was seized by the dog.
32-year-old Robert James Atkinson was arrested and turned over to Officer Lantz.
Atkinson was transported to the Salem Hospital for treatment of a dog bite on his neck. He will be booked into the Marion County Jail on charges of Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle, Felony and Misdemeanor Elude, Possession of stolen property and an outstanding Parole Violation warrant from Marion County.