Zillah, WA - Sunnyside Man Steals Police SUV - 100 MPH Chase for 50 Miles - Hit And Run - 2 County Chase

September 16, 2014


Authorities in two counties chased a stolen Zillah police car for roughly 50 miles at speeds of more than 100 mph before the driver was finally stopped outside Goldendale.

Bail was set Monday at $50,000 for 19-year-old Lewis Edward Axmaker of Sunnyside. He is being held on suspicion on eluding, auto theft, first- and second-degree malicious mischief, resisting arrest and hit and run.

Problems began about 9 p.m. Friday, when a Zillah police officer following up on a missing child report left his Ford Expedition, a large SUV, unlocked with its engine running outside a home in the 200 block of Adams Park Drive. When he left the home, he discovered the vehicle was gone, said Zillah police Chief Dave Simmons.

Using a global positioning system, police located the patrol car on Chambers Road between Toppenish and Granger. Toppenish police began chasing it as it headed south on U.S. Highway 97 toward Goldendale. The driver sped at more than 100 mph and at times drove into oncoming traffic, Simmons said.

Toppenish and Zillah police, along with Yakima County sheriff’s deputies, chased the stolen SUV to the Yakima-Klickitat county line at Satus Pass. Deputies from Klickitat County also joined the chase, Simmons said.

Klickitat County sheriff’s deputies set out spike strips just outside Goldendale that punctured the tires of the patrol car. It traveled another 3 miles as its front tire gradually disintegrated, eventually causing the SUV to veer off the road and crash through a fence, Simmons said.

Police shocked Axmaker with a Taser as he tried to run away, Simmons said.

Simmons said the SUV will be out of service for a week while it’s repaired, but added the department has enough vehicles to maintain patrols.

Simmons said officers leave their vehicles running while on calls to keep the emergency lights and onboard computer operating, but they are supposed to be locked. He said he would review the matter of leaving the SUV unlocked with the officer.

There was a shotgun in the vehicle, Simmons said, but it was locked in a gun rack.

Earlier Friday evening, police removed Axmaker from the stands at a football game at Zillah High School for disorderly conduct, Simmons said.

“He was making rude comments to other people at the game,” Simmons said. He said officers and school officials were not sure if Axmaker was intoxicated.

Court records show that Axmaker had been charged with second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission in 2010, when he took a motorcycle when he was 15. The charge was dropped after he completed the terms of a diversion agreement.

Last year, Axmaker pleaded guilty to third-degree assault after kicking a Toppenish police officer during an incident in July 2013. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

At the time of Friday’s incident, Axmaker was out on bail awaiting trial on second-degree assault charges for allegedly striking an Outlook man in the head in July.