Suspect leads police on wild chase in stolen truck; rams 2 LCSO cars

A Lebanon man was taken into custody Wednesday evening following a bizarre pursuit of a stolen truck where two patrol cars were intentionally rammed and destroyed by the suspect.

Police arrested Ronald Scott Smith, 34, on charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, two counts of first-degree attempted assault, attempting to elude a police officer, failure to perform the duties of a driver at the scene of an accident (injury), attempting to elude a police officer, failure to perform the duties of a driver at the scene of an accident (property damage) and reckless driving.

Shortly after 9 p.m. on Nov. 17, a 2003 International semi-truck filled with contractors’ tools was stolen from where it had been parked in front of a motel on Long Street in Sweet Home. The truck is owned by PEC, Inc., of Helena, Mont. Employees from the business were staying in the motel and saw their truck being driven away. They gave chase in another pickup and called police with their location.

The first deputy caught up with the truck on Liberty Road west of Sweet Home. A second deputy arrived after it had turned onto Mountain Home Drive, at which time they turned on their emergency lights and tried to stop it.

Instead of yielding, Sheriff Dave Burright said, the truck continued on with a speed varying between 30 and 40 mph. The driver also was not maintaining a single lane of travel, going into the oncoming lanes on blind curves.

Two more deputies set up ahead of the truck where Mountain Home Drive becomes a T-intersection with Northern Drive. Both deputies parked their patrol cars on Northern Drive on the right side of the intersection with the intent to turn the suspect to the left and away from the City of Brownsville.

Instead, the suspect turned right and intentionally steered toward the patrol cars, Sheriff Burright said. One deputy was able to avoid the collision, but the second, Deputy Brent Hauke, was rammed head on as he attempted to back away. Deputy Hauke suffered minor injuries and was treated and released from Samaritan Albany General Hospital.

The suspect then continued on into Brownsville with two deputies still in pursuit. In the meantime, Cpl. Rodney David had set up spike strips on Kirk Avenue just east of Spaulding.

When the suspect saw the spike strip and patrol car, however, he again intentionally swerved toward the car and drove over the back end of it, Sheriff Burright said. Cpl. David was not in the vehicle and was able to jump out of the way to avoid injury.

The suspect continued out of Brownsville north on Lebanon-Brownsville Road, Sheriff Burright said. As he did so, he would intentionally swerve toward oncoming traffic, forcing cars from the roadway.

Another deputy was able to again spike the truck’s tires near Washburn Heights, but the suspect continued on with two flat tires. He then turned onto Rock Hill to Stoltz Hill Road near Lebanon where Lebanon police officers spiked the truck a third time.

The suspect could be seen trying to drive into the Lebanon patrol cars, but the truck would not respond due to the flattened tires, Sheriff Burright said. The suspect continued onto Airport Road. At approximately 10:10 p.m., the suspect turned into a small subdivision on Cypress Court in Lebanon. He drove the truck onto the lawn of the home of his girlfriend where he had lived recently. He got out and ran inside, locking the door behind him.

Pursuing deputies forced their way in and found Smith hiding in the attic, Sheriff Burright said. He initially claimed he was wired with dynamite and was armed with a gun. This proved to be false, and he finally surrendered and was taken into custody.

Neither of the damaged cars are repairable. The total loss is estimated at approximately $30,000, Sheriff Burright said. Luckily, one of the cars had high mileage and was scheduled to be replaced soon, which helped hold down the value of the loss.

By Alex Paul


Sweet Home Police Chief Bob Burford said Ronald Smith’s adventure began in Sweet Home about 9:18 p.m. when Smith reportedly went to a home in the 1000 block of 12th.

“He told the homeowner that he could get 15 years in jail if the police got to him,” Chief Burford said. “He was dressed in a ripped gray sweat shirt. There was blood on the shirt and mud on his clothing. He was carrying a canvas bag, much like a pool cue bag.”

When the homeowner told Smith he was going to call the police, Smith ran away.

About a half hour later, the Sweet Home Police Department was notified that the Linn County Sheriff’s Office was involved in pursuit of a stolen truck.

“We also started receiving phone calls that Smith had damaged three other vehicles belonging to the same company when he drove the truck out of the parking lot at the Sweet Home Inn,” Burford said. “Although all of the vehicles sustained some damage, only one was significant at about $3,000.”

After Smith was taken into custody by LCSO officers, Sweet Home and Linn county officers searched the area between the home where Smith had made contact and the motel, looking for the canvas bag that Smith had been carrying, since it was not in his possession at the time of arrest.

It was located under a pile of leaves and contained a .22 caliber rifle.

Chief Burford said Smith’s only other contact with the SHPD was in 1989 when he was contacted in connection with possible forgery issues.