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Pursuit lands man in pile of deep horse pucky

A Gresham man found himself in deep — well, you know what — both literally and figuratively late Sunday while trying to run from police.

Officers had to carry the manure-covered man out of a horse pasture after he slipped and fell on the pasture’s uneven terrain. Adding injury to insult, the man also broke his lower leg in the fall, according to police.

It all began at about 9:10 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, when Gresham Traffic Officer Scott McFarland saw a motorist driving 55 mph near East Powell Boulevard and Northeast Kelly Avenue, which is in a 30 mph zone, said Lt. Claudio Grandjean, Gresham Police spokesman.

The officer caught up to the red 1997 Ford Explorer at Main Avenue and tried to stop him, but the driver sped off, continuing westbound on Powell. When the suspect’s speeds topped 80 mph near Southwest Walters Avenue, McFarland stopped the chase given the danger to the community such high speeds pose.

But first, he read the license plate information to emergency dispatchers, who determined the vehicle was registered to an occupant of an apartment in the 2700 block of West Powell Boulevard.

The officer drove to the apartment and found the Explorer in the parking lot. Nobody was inside the vehicle, but McFarland noted what appeared to be fresh damage to the front end.

McFarland knocked on the door of the apartment the car was registered to. The woman who answered said her boyfriend just arrived in a panic, told her that the police were after him and had run out the back door.

The door opens out to a horse pasture.

When officers checked it, they found the man crawling around in the muck, covered in horse manure.

The suspect — identified as Jose Luis Lopez, 24, of Gresham — had hopped the fence into the pasture, but fell on the uneven terrain and into the horse manure, Grandjean said. The fall injured his ankle, making it impossible for him to walk. “Officers had to practically carry him from the pasture to the police car,” Grandjean said.

Police took him to a hospital, where Lopez got good news and bad news. His ankle was not broken like he thought it was. Instead, his fibula — the smaller calf bone behind the shin bone — was broken just above the ankle.

Officers also discovered that not only was Lopez allegedly driving while intoxicated, he was driving with a license suspended for a previous DUII, for which he was on probation.

McFarland’s follow-up investigation led him to the area where Lopez was coming from when the officer first noticed the man speeding. There, in the 24000 block of Southeast Stark Street, the officer found a damaged tree and evidence that Lopez had crashed into it.

“This guy had a bad night,” Grandjean said.

Lopez is being held on $35,000 bail at the Multnomah County Detention Center on allegations of felony drunken driving, reckless driving, attempt to elude police by vehicle, second-degree criminal mischief, driving with a suspended or revoked license and hit-and-run resulting in property damage. He also is on an administrative probation hold for violating his probation on that prior drunken driving case and on a third-degree robbery conviction.

Grandjean said the case is a good example of an officer weighing the risk to the public and discontinuing a chase while still getting a dangerous driver off the road.

“He will not be able to continue to drive in violation of his suspended license,” Grandjean added.

Between that and the broken leg, Lopez should be moving at a much slower pace for a while.