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Stolen car pursuit leads to crashes, foot chase

Suspect booked into jail 23 times on earlier charges


Following a high-speech car chase that culminated in two crashes and a foot chase across Highway 26 on Saturday afternoon, Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested a Beaverton man with a long criminal history who they say was driving a stolen car.

On Saturday around 2:30 p.m., a sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop a vehicle at Southwest Canyon Road and Walker Road in West Slope. The deputy was at 29-year-old Leonel Zamora Jr.’s residence earlier in his shift and knew his driver’s license was criminally suspended, said Sgt. David Thompson, a sheriff’s office spokesman.

Zamora fled from the deputy and traveled west on Canyon Road. At Southwest 110th Avenue, Zamora hit another vehicle driven by Dena Whitney, 42, of Portland. Whitney, who had her 6-month-old son in the car, suffered minor injures, but was not transported to the hospital. Her son was not injured.

Zamora failed to stop after he crashed into Whitney’s car and continued west on Canyon until he turned onto northbound Highway 217. With his lights and sirens on, the deputy followed Zamora as he drove at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour on the freeway. Zamora then took the eastbound ramp to Highway 26. As he was merging onto the highway, he took a sudden left turn, drove over a concrete median and crashed into a car on the freeway driven by Michael Rothenfluch, 21, of Portland. His wife and 4-year-old daughter were also in the vehicle. The daughter suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was transported by ambulance to Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

At the scene of the crash, Zamora stopped his car, got out and fled on foot. He jumped over the jersey barrier that separates the east and west lanes of Highway 26 and ran across the Sunset Highway’s westbound lanes. The deputy chased Zamora across the freeway and caught him on the MAX light-rail tacks that run alongside the freeway before apprehending and arresting him, Thompson said. He was eventually taken to Tuality Hospital with minor injuries.

During the investigation, deputies learned the pickup truck Zamora was driving had been stolen earlier in the day. They also learned Zamora has a long criminal history and is currently on parole for burglary charges. With his latest incident Zamora has been booked into the Washington County Jail 23 times in the past 10 years.

He was later taken to the Washington County Jail where he was lodged on accusations including two charges each of fourth-degree assault, felony hit and run and criminal mischief, reckless driving, attempting to elude a police officer, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and a parole violation, Thompson said.




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