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Cops, K-9s and neighbors nab hit-and-run drivers

Two flee crash that endangers family of CCFD #1 Battalion Chief James Karn - but they don't get far

A runaway driver nearly killed himself and his passenger, along with the family of a prominent local firefighter, in a series of collisions on the evening of April 5.

Teresea Karn, the wife of Clackamas County Fire District #1 Battalion Chief Jamie Karn, was traveling westbound on Eagle Creek Road in rural Clackamas County in the family's Ford Windstar van. Riding with her were the couple's two children: Christopher Karn, age 10 and Jennifer Karn, age 8.

'They encountered another vehicle going eastbound that was out of control,' said Jim Strovink, public information officer for the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. 'It hit them broadside, and the force of the impact rolled them backwards. They were up on two wheels at one point - they nearly flipped over.'

Following the collision, the suspect driver sped off. He crashed again moments later along Currin Road. The force of the second impact completely demolished his vehicle.

'It's amazing that they survived,' said Strovink.

The driver and his passenger fled the wreck on foot, taking refuge in the nearby woods.

To aid them in their search, deputies summoned K-9 officer Bradley O'Neal and his four-legged partner, Nero, to the scene.

'Nero was able to run down the driver and the deputies took him into custody,' Strovink said.

The driver was identified as 23-year-old Joshua Leach. He was lodged at the Clackamas County Jail for driving with a suspended license, as well as two counts of hit-and-run.

'In the meantime, the other guy goes to a nearby house and steals a wooden mallet,' said Strovink. 'He used it to smash the window of a neighbor's car, which he was attempting to hotwire in order to flee the area.'

Drawn by the commotion, local residents confronted the suspect and aided deputies in taking him into custody. Eric Bowers, 20, was charged with attempted automobile theft and unlawfully entering an automobile.

Jamie Karn responded personally to the scene of the initial wreck, and transported the affected members of his family to a nearby hospital for observation. By his report, all three are doing well.

Well known for his pronouncements of public safety messages, Karn pointed out that his wife and children were all using appropriate restraints - seatbelts and car seats - which allowed them to escape without injury.