Woman Leads CHP On Epic, Fairly Hairy Chase – June 15, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

ARCATA PLAZA – Plaza Grill restaurateur Bill Chino had gone up to his Jacoby’s Storehouse fourth floor office around 8:30 p.m. Saturday night, June 2, when he noticed something just a mite unusual even for the Arcata Plaza out the front window – that would be a red SUV screaming around the square at maybe 60 mph, pursued by two California Highway Patrol cars.

The Plaza loop was one of the final segments of a lengthy chase of a suspected drunk/drugged driver that started with a telephone tip in Eureka and ranged all the way to Blue Lake.

Andrea Lee Bates

According to CHP spokesman Paul Dahlen, the epic chase started with a reported drunk driver passing Harper Motors northbound on U.S. Highway 101.

The CHP had deployed four extra patrol units that night, Dahlen said, for stepped-up drunk driving enforcement. CHP officers then stood by near Sunset Avenue and waited for the reported driver to catch up to them.

Within minutes, the red SUV passed the officers at what Dahlen called “a high rate of speed.” They gave chase, and the vehicle accelerated further, sometimes veering onto the road shoulder.

Failing to yield to the pursuing officers, it took the east bound State Route 299 exit and fled toward Blue Lake reaching speeds of 106 mph.

Reaching Blue Lake, the SUV exited the freeway and raced to the Blue Lake Casino, drove through the drop-off loop, then headed for town, then back through the casino loop, then all the way out Blue Lake Boulevard to Glendale Drive. At Essex Lane, the vehicle then re-entered SR 299 – going the wrong way, westbound in the eastbound lanes. The CHP called off the pursuit, but other officers were waiting for the vehicle near the Mad River crossing.

An attempt to lay out spike strips was unsuccessful, but Dahlen said officers were able to warn oncoming vehicles of the wrong-way driver. As it passed, it got back in the westbound lane and the officers resumed the pursuit.

The entourage followed the SUV as it got back on 101, then left the freeway and entered Arcata at Sunset Avenue. Blazing down H Street, the vehicle ran all the stop signs. When it reached the Plaza, took a left on Eighth Street, then another left up G Street, another left to go down Tavern Row and then back to southbound H Street.

As it rounded the Plaza, the vehicle was going so fast  that Dahlen said the two CHP units pursuing it couldn’t tell where it had gone, and passersby had to point out its direction to them.

Chino said pedestrians peered at the racing SUV in curiosity, then backed away from the street as it approached. As it then screamed down H Street and through the Eighth and H stop sign, Chino said the driver – whom he mistook for a male – pumped his fist in the air through the rolled-down driver’s-side window.

Dahlen said the vehicle went down H Street, turned left on Samoa Boulevard, then got back on U.S. 101 northbound.

But as soon as it reached the freeway, it pulled off onto the shoulder. The driver got out, raised her hands in the air and evinced puzzlement as to why she had been pursued, saying, “What? What?”

According to Dahlen, “words were exchanged,” then the woman was tased, subdued and arrested.

Andrea Lee Bates, 33, of Eureka, was booked into Humboldt County Jail on charges of driving with a suspended license, fleeing and eluding officers, DUI, being under the influence of a controlled substance and resisting arrest.

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