A 22-year-old Pasco woman will be arraigned in court next week on charges she ignored police efforts to stop her as she drove 20 miles the wrong way on Interstate 82 at speeds of up to 50 mph despite at least three deflated tires.
In court records, Union Gap police say they initially thought she was confused about what lane she was driving in, but when they pulled up next to her car she ignored their lights and signals and continued talking on a cellphone.
Details of the chase are spelled out in police affidavits and reports filed in Yakima County Superior Court, where Alma Rosa Chavez-Gonzalez has been charged with attempting to elude police and intoxicated driving.
The incident started about 4:30 a.m. Aug. 23, when authorities received multiple reports of a car headed east in the westbound lanes of I-82 near Nob Hill Boulevard.
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Unable to get the driver’s attention to pull over, Union Gap police warned oncoming traffic, which was described as very light, and set out spikes to deflate the car’s tires, according to a police affidavit.
One tire was already flat when the spikes deflated two more, but the driver continued on at relatively constant speeds of 40 to 50 mph, the affidavit said.
Police said the driver passed about one oncoming car every mile, but drivers heeded warnings and pulled to the right shoulder to avoid the wrong-way driver.
About nine miles into the chase, two officers stopped and tried to wave the car to a stop.
“The driver appeared to begin to yield, and swerved to the right, pointing her vehicle towards my car and where we were standing. She then began to accelerate again. I threw my flashlight at the windshield of the vehicle as it approached us in an effort to provide further signals to the driver to stop her car, and to distract her from hitting us if that proved to be her intent. We moved out of the way as she returned to the road” and drove over a set of spikes, Union Gap police Officer R. Bonsen wrote in his report.
As oncoming traffic increased, a crash almost occurred when one vehicle attempted to pass the line of cars that had already pulled to the side, the affidavit said.
Near Zillah, the driver attempted to pass a semi-truck and lost control of her car, which was being driven on its tire rims, police said.
The woman tried to run away, but fell face first into an 8-foot irrigation ditch, where she was arrested, police said.
Chavez-Gonzalez remains in the Yakima County jail in lieu of $20,000 bail. The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has also placed an immigration hold. She is scheduled to be formally arraigned on the eluding charges on Sept. 8. If convicted of eluding, she could be sentenced to up to six years.