Allegedly doped driver pursuit target
A report in the Jan. 4 edition of the Clinton Daily News that this area had enjoyed a generally quiet New Year’s period was a few hours off base.
Last Friday, the same day that article was printed, at about 12:32 p.m. Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers began chasing a California driver approximately three miles east of Clinton and wound up taking him into custody one mile west of Foss. That was after he appeared to purposely run his 2007 Chevrolet pickup into the side of a vehicle driven by a Pennsylvania woman at an estimated 80 miles per hour. Capt. Brad Neidy, commander of Troop H of the Highway Patrol, said that was also after he apparently hit another vehicle which did not stop.
No media report was issued by OHP since no one was hospitalized, but a Daily News reporter found details yesterday in court files after the errant driver – identified as Israel Udave Ramirez, 28, of Santa Cruz, Calif. – was charged with three felonies and one misdemeanor. The felonies were assault and battery with means likely to produce death, endangering others while eluding/attempting to elude police officers, and bringing contraband (a small baggy of methamphetamine) into a jail. The misdemeanor was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
The woman whose auto was run into “violently” and knocked into the center median of Interstate 40 was Paula Kovach of Elysburg, Pa. Neidy said she was not seriously hurt.
Neither was Ramirez, who took a blood test at the AllianceHealth hospital before being booked into the Custer County Jail. He made his first court appearance Tuesday, and Special District Judge Donna Dirickson set his bond at $950,000.
Troopers involved in the pursuit and capture were Aaron Hunter; his brother, Lt. Chris Hunter; and Lt. Steven Cornell. Chris Hunter brought the approximate 16-mile chase to an end near the westbound 52-mile marker in Washita County by performing a tactical vehicle intervention on the speeding pickup.
The three troopers then took the suspect into custody.
Aaron Hunter wrote the affidavit accompanying the charges. He said he was contacted about 12:32 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 2, by an OHP dispatcher who told him someone had reported a westbound maroon extended cab pickup in the middle of I-40 about the 68-mile marker, which would have been in Clinton approximately one mile east of the Washita River.
Hunter indicated he got on I-40 at the 65-mile marker but had to go east. About the U.S. Highway 183 overpass he met the pickup which was “passing another vehicle and nearly struck the side of it.” Hunter had to go to the 68-mile marker to turn around but notified Lieutenant Cornell what he thought was happening.
Lt. Chris Hunter also headed west, and the affidavit indicates that at some point he advised his fellow troopers the maroon pickup was behind him trying to crash into the back of his patrol car. He also said it passed him on the right shoulder and he had to swerve left to avoid a collision.
“Chris then observed the pickup violently swerve into the passenger side of the white vehicle (apparently the one Ms. Kovach was driving) at 80 mph, causing it to run off into the center median,” stated the affidavit. “This all happened between the 56 and 54 mile markers (east of Foss). Chris then advised he was in pursuit of the pickup. At about the 52 mm, Chris performed a Tactical Vehicle Intervention and the pickup spun into the center median. When I arrived on scene at about 12:50 (p.m.), I assisted Chris and Cornell take the driver of the pickup, Israel Udave Ramirez . . . into custody without incident.”
Aaron Hunter went on to say that Ramirez “was not making any sense when he was talking.” He added, “Ramirez continued to tell me that ‘they’ had kidnapped his son and that they were chasing and shooting at him. Ramirez also advised that the guy was riding on the back of the white vehicle (apparently the one he had run off the road) and shooting at everyone as well.”
The trooper repeated that the story never made any sense and added, “Ramirez stated that all the vehicles that were driving fast were chasing him and trying to kill him.”
During book-in at the County Jail a small baggy of methamphetamine was allegedly found in the suspect’s right front watch pocket.
His next court appearance is scheduled Jan. 25 at 1:30 p.m.