Man arrested after crash with infant in car

Scott Swanson

Sweet Home police arrested a 24-year-old Sweet Home man following a pursuit that ended in a crash Saturday night, April 2.

Inside the crashed vehicle was a 6-month-old baby, who was in a rear-facing car seat but not secured, said Police Chief Jeff Lynn.

Justin Ray Gomez, 24, was arrested for driving under the influence, reckless driving, recklessly endangering another person, attempting to elude a police officer and hit and run, property.

He was arraigned in Linn County Circuit Court Monday on charges of attempting to elude a police officer, driving under the influence, reckless driving and recklessly endangering another person, all class A misdemeanors. He remained lodged at Linn County Jail Monday afternoon.

Lynn said officers were dispatched at 10:51 p.m. to a reported disturbance at Chewy’s, 1200 12th Ave.

“Upon arrival, an employee of Chewy’s directed officers to a vehicle in the parking lot that was preparing to leave,” Lynn said.

Inside the vehicle, a green 1999 Pontiac Grand Am, was a person apparently associated with the disturbance, Lynn said. An officer initiated a traffic stop in the parking lot. As he exited the patrol car, the officer recognized the driver.

Gomez allegedly sped away in the Grand Am, slipping between the T&M and Keesecker buildings, striking a post and the Keesecker Building, 1195 Main St., Lynn said. The vehicle traveled north on 12th Avenue reaching speeds of approximately 60 mph, he said.

The vehicle crashed at the north end of 12th Avenue at its intersection with Tamarack Street, and the officer took Gomez into custody.

Another officer checked the vehicle for additional occupants and heard a baby crying, Lynn asid. The baby was in a rear-facing car seat in the backseat. But the infant was not fastened in the seat.

Medics responded to check the infant, Lynn said. No one was injured in the crash, and the baby was OK.

Police released custody of the baby to Kim Tucker at the request of the mother, Kaytlin Hurt, Lynn said. Gomez is the baby’s father.

Gomez and Hurt are a couple, Lynn said. Prior to the pursuit, he had gone to Chewy’s bar, looking for Hurt. While the baby remained in the vehicle, Gomez went inside and confronted Hurt, prompting the call to police.