By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
EVERETT — Police believe a convicted auto thief was behind the wheel of a stolen pickup late Sunday night when it slammed into a car in downtown Everett and sent a Mukilteo woman to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
It wasn’t the first time Joseph D. Strange has been accused of trying to outrace police and putting others’ lives in peril, according to court records.
Sunday night’s crash ended a police pursuit that began in Bothell.
Strange, 33, allegedly was driving a fullsize Ford F-series pickup stolen out of Lake Stevens on Friday. In recent weeks, auto thieves have targeted similar older model Ford pickups. In April, more than 20 such thefts occurred between Everett and Arlington, according to Snohomish County Auto Theft Task Force records.
On Sunday, the pickup allegedly reached speeds of 90 mph on Evergreen Way and blew through several red lights, Bothell police wrote in a report.
The crash occurred at the intersection of Rucker and Pacific avenues.
Strange, 33, was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett for a medical evaluation before being booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of assault, possessing a stolen vehicle and attempting to elude police.
A Mukilteo woman, 40, wasn’t so lucky. She suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Police in Bothell attempted to stop the pickup around 11:20 p.m., Bothell Sgt. Ken Seuberlich said.
The officers stopped their pursuit at the intersection of I-405 and northbound I-5.
As the officers left the freeway at the 164th Street exit, they saw the pickup enter a parking lot where it rammed into a car “and continued to accelerate as if trying to push the vehicle out of the way,” court papers said.
The pickup then backed into a patrol car and sped off.
“I believed the driver was trying to push me out of the way so he could escape and was intentionally assaulting me to escape,” a Bothell officer wrote in a police affidavit.
Police resumed chasing the pickup as it drove north on I-5, exited at SE Everett Mall Way and headed north on Evergreen Way, which turns into Rucker Avenue.
At the intersection of Rucker and Pacific, it slammed into the Mukilteo woman’s car, flipped and slid onto the sidewalk, Everett police officer Aaron Snell said.
The collision pushed the car onto its side. The car struck and ruptured a natural gas line before stopping.
The woman was trapped inside. She had to be rescued by medics and police who had to move the vehicle to get it away from the gas line.
Strange has a long history of stealing cars.
In 2010, he was sentenced to more than four years in prison for stealing a Ford F250 pickup and possessing methamphetamine.
Five years earlier, he was convicted of stealing more than a half dozen cars.
“The defendant told police officers he was addicted to stealing and was a small-time methamphetamine dealer,” prosecutors wrote in court papers.
In 2002, when a Lynnwood police sergeant ordered him to drop to his knees during an interrupted car prowl, Strange jumped into a stolen car and to drove at the officer, missing him by less than a foot, before leading police on a high-speed chase onto I-5. At one point, he backed the car towards officers whose weapons were drawn.
Sunday’s crash was the second time in recent weeks that a chase involving an Ford F-series stolen pickup ended in north Everett.
Two weeks ago, an Everett man was arrested after being stopped in Marysville in a stolen pickup. He abandoned the vehicle near Providence hospital and allegedly fired three shots from a handgun toward an officer. The suspect was arrested and booked into the county jail.
Scott Pierce had his Ford F250 stolen from his Marysville driveway on Easter.
His wallet was inside his truck. One of his credit cards was used soon thereafter at a fast-food restaurant. Pierce hopes police are able to use video surveillance from the restaurant to identify and arrest whoever stole his pickup.
“They have solid video evidence of these people,” he said.
His pickup also was involved in a police chase and later was found abandoned near the Smokey Point Costco.
A roofer by trade, Pierce lost thousands of dollars worth of tools, a compressor and a ladder.
In some cases, stolen pickup truck are used to commit other crimes, the Snohomish County Auto Theft Task Force said.
Such appeared to be the case on Sunday, May 8.
That day, someone stole a Ford F250 from the Silver Lake Costco.
The truck belonged to the boyfriend of Caila McDaniel’s sister.
The Everett couple immediately called McDaniel who was at their home.
They knew the thieves would have the vehicle registration that would include their address. A key to their other car also was in the truck.
A few minutes later, McDaniel could hear the truck’s engine halfway down the block.
Although frightened, McDaniel decided to confront the suspects in the street.
“As soon as they saw me, they took off,” McDaniel said. “Cars had to swerve over so they wouldn’t get into a wreck.”
The pickup was found the next day in a remote part of Marysville next to another stolen truck.
The tires and wheels had been stripped.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org