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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Juneau Police Department officer Jason Van Sickle measures the diameter of a tree after a pickup truck smashed into it at the intersection of Aspen Avenue and Portage Boulevard on Tuesday.

Drunk driver crashes after high speed chase

Posted: May 8, 2012 - 12:30pm  |  Updated: May 9, 2012 - 12:01am
Juneau Police Officer Sterling Salisbury empties a bottle of alcohol at the scene of a crash by a drunken driver who lead police on a high speed chase through the valley on Tuesday.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Juneau Police Officer Sterling Salisbury empties a bottle of alcohol at the scene of a crash by a drunken driver who lead police on a high speed chase through the valley on Tuesday.

A suspected drunk driver was arrested after leading police on a high speed vehicle chase through Mendenhall Valley on Tuesday morning and side-swiping a marked police car.

The approximately eight-minute-long vehicle chase ended with the suspect losing control of his pickup truck and crashing it into a tree in a front yard in a residential neighborhood a little after 11 a.m.

Devin Moorhouse, 26, who police say was drunk at the time, was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries. He was then jailed on multiple felony and misdemeanor charges, including failure to stop at the direction of a police officer, assault and driving while intoxicated.

Police said in a release the chase began when Moorhouse almost struck a marked police car while making an illegal lane change on Egan Drive outbound near McDonald’s.

The officer positioned himself behind Moorhouse’s 1991 red Chevy truck to perform a traffic stop. Police said Moorhouse failed to stop and ran through the red light at Egan Drive and Mendenhall Loop Road.

Moorhouse then turned on to Riverside Drive, and he ran a second red light at the Mall Road intersection, according to a release. Juneau Police Department Lt. David Campbell said Moorhouse had accelerated to such a high rate of speed, the pursuing officer terminated the chase.

“At JPD we have guidelines that the officers use if they’re going to determine if they’re going to pursue somebody or not,” Campbell said in an interview, adding the weather, traffic and seriousness of the crime are some of those factors. “In this case, once he had passed the second stoplight .. he accelerated to a speed that the officer believed was an unjustifiable risk to people in the area.”

Two school zones are near that area, and the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour, Campbell added.

Another police officer picked up Moorhouse’s location again about three or four minutes later when he observed the Chevy fail to stop for a third red light while crossing Loop Road, from Mendenhall Boulevard onto Valley Boulevard.

Police said Moorhouse continued to fail to stop for officers, and side-swiped a police car, causing a couple hundred dollars worth of damage.

“No police officers were injured, and very minor damage to the police car,” Campbell said.

The Chevy crossed back onto Mendenhall Boulevard and turned onto Aspen Avenue, a residential neighborhood. At the intersection of Portage Boulevard, police say Moorhouse lost control and struck a tree.

On scene, a responding police officer was seen confiscating a bottle of liquor and pouring its contents out onto the ground.

Police and medics tended to a 33-year-old female passenger in the truck. Her name was not released. Police said she complained of pain, was evaluated on scene by medics, then decided she didn’t want to be taken to a hospital.

Campbell said if Moorhouse would have stopped for the first police officer near McDonald’s, he would probably only be facing misdemeanor drunken driving and driving while license revoked charges.

Instead, Moorhouse was slapped with two counts of first-degree failure to stop at the direction of a police officer, third-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal mischief, in addition to the two misdemeanor charges.

“Yes, he was intoxicated and driving revoked, but by running from the police and getting caught ... he made the situation much worse not only for the general public with his reckless actions but for himself with what he has to face in the future,” Campbell said.

“I think the lesson is that when you run from the police, you exacerbate the problems of whatever you’re going to be stopped for,” Campbell added.

Campbell said he did not know why Moorhouse’s license was revoked.

Online court records indicate Moorhouse was charged with driving under influence and reckless endangerment in 2006, but those charges were dismissed.

He was also charged with felony burglary in 2004, and served jail time in connection to that case, according to online court records.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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