Local law enforcement agencies sustained $12,000 worth in damage to two Big Horn Sheriff Department vehicles and one Lovell Police vehicle after a welfare check turned into a 10-minute car chase down Highway 310.
On November 27, at 1:06 p.m., Deputy Jeff Angell stopped to check on the welfare of a driver in a dark blue pickup truck who had stopped his car on the side of Highway 310 about a mile north of the Georgia-Pacific turnout, according to Big Horn Sheriff Ken Blackburn. Upon contact, an alleged physical altercation ensued between Angell and the driver, Wacey Lane Craft, a 30-year-old resident of Basin.
The driver then started driving north, resulting in Angell calling for backup. Multiple officers and deputies responded pursuing Craft with their lights activated. Craft did not yield, Blackburn said.
After roughly nine minutes of pursuit, officers and deputies surrounded and entrapped Craft’s vehicle with their cars, forcing him off the road just south of Lovell Lakes, according to Blackburn.
“The officers and deputies worked seamlessly together,” Blackburn said. “From the initial contact, there was less than 10 minutes of pursuit. A lot of bad things can happen during that time. The officers and deputies did their job professionally.”
Upon forcing the vehicle to a stop, law enforcement officers had to physically remove Craft from the vehicle and placed him under arrest. Craft caused the damage to law enforcement vehicles while surrounded and off the road, Blackburn said.
A subsequent search warrant produced what is expected to be drugs from the vehicle. Blackburn said the substances have been sent to a crime lab.
Craft has been charged with two felonies, which include driving while under the influence and property destruction. He also has been charged with three misdemeanors, which include interference with a peace officer, possession of over three ounces of a controlled substance in plant form and evading/eluding police officer.
All vehicles damaged in the incident are still functional and will be repaired, according to Big Horn Sheriff Administrative Assistant Keri Wilske-Angell.
Blackburn praised Angell for his handling of the incident.
“From the welfare check to calling for backup, he did everything right,” Blackburn said.
By Ryan Fitzmaurice