Gaston vehicle has crazy day in big city

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Patrick Newtons pickup barely survived its ordeal after being kidnapped from a remote, pastoral area outside Gaston and then driven crazily along Highway 217 on the opposite side of Washington County.One day earlier this month, Patrick Newton left his truck in rural Gaston surrounded by decorative nursery shrubs and the sounds of the country.

By the next afternoon, it was in Beaverton shoved up against Highway 217's barrier, holding up traffic after being involved in a police chase.

He left his truck parked in his in-law’s driveway Friday evening, Dec. 7, sitting about a quarter-mile off Boyd Road outside of Gaston. On Saturday, police came to his door and asked him if he had given anyone permission to drive his truck. He had not.

Officers told him his vehicle had been involved in a high-speed police chase, hitting two other cars along the way.

Now, Newton, his in-laws and police, are trying to figure out how somebody trekked out to a rural residence accessible only by a long driveway or through the surrounding 20 acres of field and stole Newton's truck while there was nobody home.

While the beginning of the story is a mystery, the end is very clear. At about 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 a Washington County Sheriff's deputy attempted to stop 29-year-old Leonel Zamora, who was driving Newton's stolen truck, near Southwest Canyon Road and Southwest Walker Road in Beaverton. He reportedly fled from the deputy traveling west on Canyon Road, where he hit a vehicle driven by a 42-year-old woman who had her six-month-old son in the car.

Zamora continued driving west on Canyon Road and turned onto Highway 217 with the deputy following him as he drove more than 70 miles per hour.

When Zamora started to take the east-bound ramp to Highway 217, he took a sudden left turn, drove over a concrete median and crashed into another car driven by a 21-year-old man who was traveling with his wife and daughter.

Zamora then got out of the car and fled on foot, jumping over the barrier that separates the east- and west-bound lanes and running across the highway weaving in between traffic.

The deputy eventually caught up with him on the MAX tracks along the freeway. Zamora was taken to Tuality Hospital with minor injuries.

Nobody involved in the collisions suffered life-threatening injuries, but a four-year-old girl who was a passenger in the second vehicle was taken to the hospital.

Newton's in-laws, Ingrid and Howard Powell, returned from their vacation to muddy tire ruts in their nursery fields, a missing power washer and an unexpected update from their son-in-law about where his truck had been since the previous night.

Now, Newton is dealing with the aftermath, waiting to hear from his insurance company and to find out whether Zamora pleads guilty.

"I have no clue how he found his way out here," said Newton. "It's kind of shocking."

Ingrid Powell said nobody in her family has any association with Zamora, who police described as a transient from Hillsboro with a long criminal history.

"We always felt so safe," said Powell. "We never thought anybody was going to do this."

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