Trial set for woman accused of attempting to elude Richland police in March

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 26, 2013 

A 39-year-old woman allegedly was driving under the influence of marijuana when she twice took off from police before ultimately rolling her car on Badger Road while taking a curve at a high speed.

Richland police initially were trying to stop Heidi Lee Wolfe on March 8 for being behind the wheel when a records check showed she had a suspended license.

Almost a half hour after the first contact, Wolfe was arrested as she was running away from her rolled car.

Wolfe, of Benton City, pleaded innocent in Benton County Superior Court to attempting to elude police, a felony. She also is charged with driving under the influence, third-degree driving with a suspended license and an ignition interlock violation.

She remains free on her personal recognizance while awaiting trial Dec. 9.

Court documents show a Richland officer saw the car at 12:28 p.m., discovered the registered owner's license was suspended and the determined the woman who was driving at the time matched the description of the owner.

The car parked in front of a business at Geneva Street and North Columbia Center Boulevard and Wolfe went inside, even though the officer had pulled up in his patrol car and activated his flashing lights. She came back outside when the officer motioned for her.

Wolfe provided an identification card and registration. Then, while the officer was checking it, Wolfe hopped in her car, started the engine, slammed the door and left the parking lot, documents said.

Another officer was on his way to provide backup when he saw Wolfe's car at the intersection of Columbia Park Trail and the off-ramp for Highway 240. That officer's lights and sirens were on, but Wolfe reportedly almost struck the patrol car.

The chase went up Steptoe Street and onto Canyon Street, with Wolfe allegedly passing several vehicles on the way, until she stopped in a Canyon Court driveway. The officer parked behind her car and confirmed the license plate matched the one in the earlier traffic stop.

But Wolfe was able to pull out around the patrol car and drive off at a high rate of speed, court documents said. The officer ended the pursuit "based on the driver's reckless driving," documents said.

A third Richland officer was in the area of Queensgate Drive and Interstate 182 at 12:46 p.m. keeping a lookout for Wolfe. He was on Badger Road heading toward Benton City when he saw the car coming toward him and noticed Wolfe was the only person inside.

The car turned around several times and the officer lost sight of it as the car went west on Badger around a curve, just east of Canyon View, court documents said. He came around the curve to see the car rolled over onto the shoulder of the oncoming lane and Wolfe running away, documents said.

Police reportedly noted "an odor of intoxicants" coming from Wolfe's car and from her as officers talked to her. She had red and watery eyes, but also was crying at the scene.

Police got a search warrant to test Wolfe's blood, and it came back with a 5.8 concentration of THC (the main ingredient in the marijuana plant) and a lower level of methamphetamine. The DUI charge, a gross misdemeanor, is for having a THC concentration of 5.0 or higher within two hours after driving as shown by blood analysis.

In an interview with officers, Wolfe claimed she was driving between 100 and 150 mph when she rolled in the curve. She said she didn't know why she had driven away from the first officer, but added that she panicked because she knew her license status, court documents said.

Wolfe also told police she'd had three to four mixed drinks the night before and had used pot in the previous 24 hours, documents said.

She was supposed to have an ignition interlock device installed for the license suspension, but officers reported not seeing one in the car.

w Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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