Police seek Sweet Home driver after chase, collision with patrol car

Sean C. Morgan

Sweet Home police are seeking a 31-year-old Sweet Home man in connection to a high-speed pursuit early and crash into a patrol car on April 3 and for outstanding warrants.

Officer Gerrit Southard initiated a traffic stop on a Ford Ranger at 1:38 a.m. on Elm Street near 14th Avenue, said Sgt. Jason Van Eck.

The driver, Ryan Rikala of Sweet Home, identified himself by name and date of birth, Van Eck said. The vehicle was registered to Rikala’s parents.

After stopping, Rikala asked the officer if he could pull off at the park, Van Eck said, but Southard asked him to shut off the engine. The Ranger pulled away, and the officer pursued west on Elm Street.

The vehicle turned north onto 4th Avenue, reaching speeds for 45 to 50 mph, left onto Highway 228 and left onto Upper Calapooia Drive, Van Eck said. Speeds reached 85 mph on Highway 228 but were predominantly in the 50s and 60s, he said.

Southard followed the Ranger about 3.9 miles along Upper Calapooia Drive, Van Eck said. The Ranger turned left onto a gravel driveway across from 41615 Upper Calapooia Drive.

Reaching the residence, the Ranger looped back between a large tree and utility pole guy wire down small embankment toward the driveway, striking a pursuing patrol vehicle being driven by Officer Keenan Martin in the driver’s door and front fender.

The driver fled on foot, Van Eck said. Linn County Sheriff’s Office assisted with a canine unit, but police officers were unable to locate the driver.

Martin had no apparent injuries in the crash, Van Eck said.

Police arrested passenger Laticia Sanchez, 28, on a statewide warrant for parole violation on an original charge of dangerous drugs and a new charge of providing false information to a police officer. She was lodged at Linn County Jail.

In addition to the pursuit, police are seeking Rikala on a Lebanon warrant for contempt of court and probation violation on an original charge of unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, a Linn County warrant for failure to appear on an original charge of resisting arrest and a state warrant for parole violation.

During the traffic stop, the dispatcher reported that Rikala also had no valid driver’s license and was on post-prison supervision on an original charge of unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, Van Eck said.

Anyone with information should contact the Police Department at (541) 367-5181.

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