Photo contributed by Kari Goodheart
The crash of a vehicle fleeing law enforcement Sunday in Hermiston led to one arrest for burglary and other charges, but two suspects remain at-large.
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office in a written statement reported deputy Nathan Rankin at 11:22 a.m. Sunday was driving his patrol vehicle north on Northeast 10th Street near Sandstone Middle School, Hermiston, when he saw a newer model, gray Toyota Corolla leaving the driveway of the residence at 395 N.E. 10th St. Three people were in the car, and Rankin recognized the vehicle belonged to Amanda Lynn Clawson, 35, of Hermiston.
Circuit Court records show Rankin on March 28 gave Clawson a ticket for driving uninsured.
As Rankin passed by, the car turned south onto Northeast 10th, accelerated and whirled west onto East Ridgeway Avenue. Rankin activated his car’s overhead lights and turned around to follow. The Toyota sped through residential areas and eventually drove onto Diagonal Road and then East Main Street. The sheriff’s office stated Rankin turned off his siren and ended the pursuit out of concerns for public safety.
The deputy saw the vehicle speed west on East Main Street and crash into a building at 495 E. Main St. Rankin neared the crash and saw two males and a female run from the scene, and he captured Clawson.
“Clawson admitted she was driving the vehicle,” according to the sheriff’s office, and she said she tried to elude Rankin because one of her passengers told her he had a warrant. She also would not identify her two passengers.
Clawson told Rankin she had methamphetamine in her purse and firearms inside her vehicle.
Rankin searched the car and found approximately 1/8th ounce of possible meth and several ounces of marijuana. He also saw two handguns, a large metal safe, jewelry and paperwork with the name “Maret,” which is the name of the family that lives at 395 N.E. 10th St.
Oregon State Police trooper Dain Gardner assisted Rankin. He went to the Maret residence, discovered the back door was damaged and contacted the family, who confirmed their residence was burglarized.
“They went to the crash scene and identified their stolen property in Clawson’s vehicle,” the sheriff’s office reported.
Rankin also found what appeared to be a hand grenade in the car. The sheriff’s office called the Oregon State Police Explosives Unit, whose members determined it “to be a non-explosive, fake device.” The sheriff’s office did not yet know if the item came from the Maret’s home or was in the car already.
James Thomas of Hermiston was on a ride-along with Hermiston police at the time of the chase. He reported deputies and Hermiston officers closed off the surrounding area until the bomb squad arrived and checked out the situation.
The sheriff’s office booked Clawson in the county jail, Pendleton, on the following: misdemeanor and felony attempt to flee, hit and run on property, first-degree trespass, possession of burglary tools in, two counts of first-degree theft, possession and delivery of meth and possession of a hoax destructive device.
The sheriff’s office reported the two other suspects remain at large, and the investigation is continuing.