Double chase, double crash and a burglary lands GJ man in jail
RIFLE, Colorado – A Grand Junction man led sheriff’s deputies on two separate car chases, with a burglary in between, before they captured him at 1 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, according to a report issued by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department.
Jason Allen Lewis, 28, faces charges of auto theft, eluding, reckless driving, hit and run, trespass, burglary, theft, criminal mischief and driving without a valid license.
Lewis came to the attention of authorities at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, when a motorist called 911 to provide the license plate number of an SUV seen driving erratically on I-70.
Deputies searched the plate number and learned that the vehicle, a Honda Ridgeline, had been reported stolen in Grand Junction.
Within 15 minutes, deputies found the Honda headed up County Road 315 toward the Garfield County Regional Airport. After a short chase, the deputy backed off. A deputy soon came upon the Honda crashed into a stack of metal pipes, which were part of a pipeline under construction. The driver had already run from the scene.
The deputy had his canine officer, Bak, on board, so dog and handler immediately began searching the area. After spending about an hour in freezing conditions looking for the driver, the team of deputies called off the search.
Then at 10:52 p.m., the dispatch center called deputies about a burglary at a home on County Road 352, southeast of the airport and a mile and a half north of the crash site. The homeowner reported having left earlier in the evening, leaving the door unlocked, and returning to find the door locked. Jewelry and clothing had been stolen from the house.
When deputies arrived, they noticed shoeprints tracking out the back door identical to the shoeprints from the area near the crashed Honda.
A second deputy and canine officer, Ejon, tracked the suspect from the house for about an hour, ending up at the east access gate to the airport.
While deputies were scouring the airport grounds looking for a man on foot, at 12:57 a.m. they suddenly saw a Chevy Suburban driving north on the airport tarmac. The vehicle was then thrown into reverse and driven backwards at a high speed toward the airplane hangars.
Deputies in patrol cars cornered the vehicle between two hangars, pulled their weapons and ordered the driver to stop. But the man drove the Chevy around the patrol cars, starting the second chase of the evening.
This time, the suspect drove north across the airport tarmac and across the runway. The Chevy then ran off the pavement and down an embankment, taking out about 50 yards of the airport’s perimeter fencing, and came to rest at the bottom of the hill near County Road 346.
The suspect again fled on foot, but deputies soon found him hiding in the brush and took him into custody. Lewis was taken to Grand River Hospital to be treated for injuries sustained in the two vehicle crashes, and was then booked in to the county jail on 13 charges.
The follow-up investigation uncovered evidence associating all three crime scenes, according to the sheriff’s department report.
Before going on its joyride, the Chevy had been parked next to a hangar in a fenced area of the airport, with the keys inside.
Damage to the airport fencing is estimated at $1,500.
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