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Suspect in Coupeville tractor chase pleads not guilty
A man accused of getting drunk, stealing a John Deere tractor and a shotgun then leading police on a slow-speed chase through Coupeville appeared in court last week.
Josiah Blodgett, 24, of Aberdeen pleaded not guilty in Island County Superior Court to theft of a motor vehicle, attempting to elude police, DUI and illegal possession of a firearm.
Blodgett is being held in jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. He could face up to a year in jail if convicted of the charges.
A rural Coupeville woman reported to police on July 15 that Blodgett was intoxicated and took a neighbor’s tractor. She said a shotgun was missing from the home.
Island County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Fortin responded to the chase in progress on Highway 20 near the Island Transit complex.
Blodgett was driving the tractor northward at about 15 mph, swerving all over the lane of travel.
Fortin stopped on the side of the road and motioned for Blodgett to pull over, but the young man just smiled and waved.
Blodgett also waved at occupants of other cars that passed by.
Fortin noted in his report that a long gun was leaning, muzzle up, on the side of the tractor’s rear fender.
Three police cars pulled behind the tractor as it passed through the lights at the intersection with Main Street in Coupeville.
Deputy William Dennis stopped ahead of the tractor in the southbound lane just north of Broadway Street. Blodgett suddenly swerved the tractor into the southbound lane, forcing Dennis and drivers behind him to back up to avoid being hit, the report said.
Blodgett turned back into his lane and continued swerving around as Dennis drove in reverse in front of the tractor.
Fortin ordered Blodgett to stop over his PA system and the young man eventually did. Deputies arrested him after securing the shotgun and showing him how to turn off the tractor.
“Blodgett became extremely belligerent, partially resistant and (was) yelling profanities at me,” the deputy wrote. “I could smell a strong odor of intoxicants coming from Blodgett’s voice as he spoke.”
Deputies also found a pellet gun on the floor of the tractor.
Blodgett was being sought on a felony warrant and several misdemeanor warrants at the time of his arrest, court records said.