Spokane Valley Sheriff’s Deputies arrested 44-year-old Ericka L. McCandless (AKA: Heller) for multiple felony and misdemeanor charges after she failed to stop for deputies and fled in a stolen vehicle. McCandless was booked for Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Attempting to Elude a Police Vehicle (2 counts), Hit and Run Attended Vehicle and Obstructing Law Enforcement.
This incident began last night at approximately 8:40 p.m. when Spokane Valley Sheriff’s Deputy Ortiz observed a white Ford F350 fail to stop at the stop sign at Cowley and Barker. The truck had paper dealership tags but no license plates were observed. Now westbound on Appleway, the vehicle accelerated to approximately 60 mph and began changing lanes as Deputy Ortiz attempted to catch up to initiate a traffic stop. At Appleway and Greenacres, the vehicle rapidly accelerated as Deputy Ortiz activated his emergency lights and siren.
The driver, later identified as McCandless, continued to drive recklessly, passing cars and almost losing control as she tried to flee. Westbound on Valleyway, the pursuit was terminated for safety as McCandless approached Sullivan Road and heavier traffic. McCandless slowed but did not stop for traffic on Sullivan causing other motorists to yield to avoid a collision.
A few moments later, Valley Sheriff’s Deputy Rassier, traveling north on Adams, observed the truck turn southbound from Valleyway at a high rate of speed, lose control and enter his lane of travel. Deputy Rassier had to take aggressive evasive action to avoid a collision. McCandless continued at a high rate of speed and lost control again as she turned west on Sprague with complete and utter disregard for the safety of others on the roadway without a deputy pursuing her. Due to her reckless actions, Deputy Rassier re-engaged in the pursuit as McCandless turned south on Evergreen from Sprague.
McCandless continued to flee reaching estimated speeds of 45 to 100 mph as she intentionally ran stop signs and stop lights. Multiple assisting units blocked intersections for the safety of citizens while others attempted to deploy stop sticks ahead of the pursuit in an attempt to end it safely and stop McCandless’ dangerous actions.
East of Pines on Sprague, Sergeant Whapeles successfully deployed stop sticks. In the area of University and Sprague, Deputy Rassier observed smoke coming from a tire as it began to deflate. With the tire deflating, the speeds dropped, and McCandless lost control as she turned north on Herald and slid into the curb. Deputy Rassier tried to position his patrol car to block any escape but McCandless accelerated and struck his vehicle. McCandless continued to flee north on Herald as the tire came apart, leaving just the wheel.
In the video captured by Air 1, sparks can be seen as McCandless flees without care or caution. On Mission, as McCandless approached a 90 degree turn at Vista, she slowed considerably to negotiate the turn before rapidly accelerating. On Farr Road, she continued through the intersection at Sprague and slowed before turning into the WinCo parking lot. She exited and turned east on Sprague, traveling the wrong way on the one-way road. At University, she slowed before continuing in the eastbound lanes of Sprague.
With Air 1 overhead and two tires of the vehicle gone, deputies began to allow McCandless gain distance with the hope she would slow down or stop. As she approached Pines, McCandless slowed and lost control. The truck spun and stopped just east of the Pines intersection.
As patrol units arrived and deputies exited their vehicles, they observed a male and a female running north, across Sprague, and away from the suspect vehicle. Corporal Thurman gave numerous commands for the fleeing suspects to stop and warned his K9 Partner Laslo would be deployed. The male, later identified as 38-year-old Justin R. Alderson, and McCandless ignored the warning and failed to follow commands. Believing Alderson was the fleeing driver, backed up with radio traffic stating a male suspect was fleeing northeast from the truck, K9 Laslo was deployed and quickly caught up to Alderson.
McCandless crossed Sprague and then turned east. She stopped at the door of a citizen’s vehicle, appeared to try and open the passenger’s side door before continuing to flee. Deputies quickly closed in on her and she was safely taken into custody.
Additional Deputies contacted another female as she exited the passenger’s side door of the suspect vehicle. She was detained and later told deputies she had just met McCandless who was a friend of a friend. The female said she told McCandless several times to stop during the pursuit but McCandless refused and said she wasn’t going to stop for the police. The female was released at the scene and was not charged.
After being advised of her rights, McCandless declined to answer any questions.
As Alderson was being detained, he started yelling, “Sorry I ran, I’m stoned! Sorry, I’m drunk and stoned!” Alderson was advised of his rights and he stated he would answer questions. He said he wasn’t inside the truck and was crossing Sprague at Pines. When he noticed the suspect vehicle approaching with law enforcement in pursuit, he was angry. He said, “I was drunk, high on meth and weed; had just had a few smokes. I was going to handle this (expletive).” He said he ran to the suspect vehicle, threw a plastic bottle he had previously filled with beer and hit the female driver (McCandless) before she ran to a “blue van and tried to steal it too!” When asked why he ran from the K9, he said he was high on meth and weed. He was just pumped up and couldn’t hear anything. Alderson was advised he was being charged with Obstructing Law Enforcement and deputies explained his actions risked everyone’s safety. He again apologized and said he was trying to be the police. Alderson received medical attention and cleared. He was transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for Obstructing Law Enforcement.
Deputies learned the vehicle McCandless was driving was reported stolen on October 30, 2016 from the Airway Heights area. McCandless was transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Attempting to Elude a Police Vehicle (2 counts), Hit and Run Attended Vehicle and Obstructing Law Enforcement.
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