Officials: Pursuit leads to arrest

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WALLA WALLA — Police were led on a high speed chase Saturday night that resulted a local man being put behind bars.

According to a Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office report presented in court this morning, Joshua M. Hunter of 1624 Walla Walla Ave. was arrested on investigation of eluding police, driving under the influence of intoxicants and driving with a suspended license. He was booked into Walla Walla County Jail with bail set at $15,000.

Law enforcement officials said in court papers Hunter, 30, was seen speeding on city streets using no headlights in east Walla Walla neighborhoods about 11 p.m. on Saturday. With lights flashing, a sheriff’s deputy followed the truck as it fishtailed and the driver spun out his rear wheels while northbound on Wellington Avenue.

Hunter nearly lost control of the truck before he left the paved road and drove through a field. He then returned to the road and continued driving, failing to stop at all posted stop signs, and becoming an “extreme hazard to the general public’s safety,” the deputy said in his report.

The pursuit on wet roads was joined by two or more back-up police vehicles as Hunter continued to flee at speeds reaching about 75 mph. As he approached the stop sign at East Melrose Street, Hunter hit his brakes, causing his truck to slide through the stop sign. As Hunter sat in his vehicle, an officer attempted to conduct a felony stop, telling Hunter to turn off the engine and put his hands out the window.

After about 15 seconds, Hunter allegedly backed up his pickup, narrowly missing the patrol car. Another officer attempted to disable the truck by ramming the rear of it, but Hunter began fleeing a second time, again at high rates of speed and now followed by about five law enforcement vehicles.

Hunter headed south on Airport Way, then westbound on Isaacs Avenue before heading back toward North Wilbur Avenue, eventually driving down a long gravel driveway to his home on Walla Walla Avenue, where he went into the house. As police surrounded the home, a woman came out of the house, screaming “at the top of her lungs,” according to the report.

As she was taken to a patrol car, the woman told police the truck, belonging to her father-in-law, was likely being used by her husband and that her 8-year-old daughter was inside the house.

The child came to a north-facing window and officers asked her to open it. The girl frantically attempted to do so, but police had to finally break the glass and remove the child through the opening, they reported.

The girl told police her father came into the house and told her “Daddy’s OK.”

Once the woman and girl were safely out of the way, police attempted to call Hunter out of the house. Upon getting no response, officers entered the house and found Hunter sitting fully clothed on a toilet in a small bathroom, the report said.

After Hunter was ordered onto the ground, he was taken into custody.

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