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Law enforcement led on high speed chase

The reflexes of many Whidbey Island drivers were put to the test Friday as law enforcement pursued the driver of a stolen car in a high speed chase.

Island County Sheriff’s deputies and police from the cities of Coupeville and Langley chased 24-year-old Ace Harris, the driver of a stolen Ford Focus, and passenger Molly Tucker, 24, throughout central and south Whidbey for about a half hour.

The chase, which reached speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, became dangerous for other drivers as Harris repeatedly swerved in and out of his lane of traffic. In addition, Deputy John Sawyers’ patrol car sustained minor damage when two quick stops by Harris forced Sawyers’ car into the Focus.

Jan Smith, spokesperson for the Island County Sheriff’s Office, said the pursuit began at about 7:40 p.m. and came to an end at about 8:10 p.m. when at the request of the sheriff’s office, a spike strip was set at the intersection of Houston Road and Highway 20.

The spike stripe punctured the Ford’s tires, Smith said, which caused the Focus to cartwheel several times before resting on the northbound side of the highway near Houston Road. Both Tucker and Harris were given medical treatment. Harris was being held in Island County Jail as of Monday. Smith said the state patrol will investigate the incident for possible charges including auto theft. No charges are planned for Tucker.

Zachary Lively, a Department of Correction community corrections supervisor, said Harris was wanted on a warrant for allegedly violating several terms of community custody. Harris, a registered sex offender, served more than two years in prison after being convicted in 2002 of third-degree child rape on Camano Island.

A harrowing chase

The chase began Friday when a woman reported to police a blue Ford Focus being driven recklessly on Highway 20 near Coupeville, Smith said. She said shortly after Deputy Sawyers pulled the Focus over near Useless Bay Colony, Harris sped away. Harris then drove into Clinton, where he abruptly stomped on the brakes and slid into Simmons Auto repair alongside Humphrey Road. Sawyers also slowed down his car, but could not stop in time before hitting the Ford.

Shortly after the first collision, Smith said Sawyers’ car ran into the Focus again when Harris stomped on the brakes near the Clinton Ferry terminal. Neither collision caused substantial damage. Smith said Harris may have been trying to deploy the airbag in Sawyers’ car

With more law enforcement having joined in the pursuit, Harris turned the Focus northbound and began swerving in and out of traffic at speeds of 60 to 80 mph. Smith said clothes were thrown out of the window and the Focus’ brakes were applied several times in an apparent attempt to hinder the pursuing police. By this time, Harris and Turner neared Houston Road. Because the Ford continued to narrowly miss several vehicles while swerving in and out of traffic, Smith said Island County Seargent Rick Norrie called the Coupeville Police to have them set the spike strip. Harris ran over the spikes shortly afterward.

According to the Department of Corrections, Harris has a long criminal history, which includes assault, marijuana possession and theft. Lively said Harris also has a juvenile record.

According to the Island County Sheriff’s Department, Harris is a known Stanwood resident. Tucker, Harris’ girlfriend, lives in Stanwood and on Camano Island.

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