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Three-neighborhood pursuit ends in spectacular smash-up

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Portland Fire & Rescue Engine 11's crew rushes to release the errant driver, trapped in the wreckage of his car following a three-neighborhood chase.A driver led Portland Police East Precinct officers on a long chase at 1:22 am on Friday morning, November 30, through the residential streets of the Powellhurst-Gilbert, Lents, and Foster-Powell neighborhoods – but just why he was trying to get away wasn’t yet clear at the time the driver crashed his 2000 Cadillac DeVille.

“Why would someone be driving like that?” neighbor Willie Blackwell wondered aloud to THE BEE, as he looked down the 7600 block of S.E. Holgate Boulevard, to where the speeding car had popped up a curb, smashed into an unoccupied van, and come to rest in a neighbor’s yard.

“I’d just gone to bed when I heard all the police cars, squealing tires – and then a big ‘thud’ sound,” Blackwell recounted.

The situation began when officers spotted the car speeding westbound on S.E. Bush Street from 115th Avenue, a couple of blocks south of S.E. Powell Boulevard, according to Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Officers followed the vehicle, as the driver – who likely didn’t realize that S.E. Bush Street ends at Ed Benedict Park – suddenly discovered that his only option was to whip around the corner at S.E. 103rd Avenue and head south.

At S.E. Holgate Boulevard, the Caddy turned west and raced onward.

“An officer saw the driver of the Cadillac fail to stop at a stop sign, and attempted to stop the vehicle,” Simpson said. “The driver sped away from the officer, and police pursued the vehicle westbound on Holgate.”

Just east of S.E. 82nd Avenue, near Wal-Mart, another officer successfully pitched a “Spike Strip” under the fleeing car’s tires, deflating them, as it roared westward through the busy intersection. Witnesses claimed the vehicle was traveling at least 50 mph when it passed S.E. 76th Avenue, just before it swerved out of control, slid sideways up over a curb, hit a truck in a driveway, and then came to a stop lodged against a tree in a resident’s yard.

The driver was trapped in his own smashed car, and had to be extricated by the crew of Lents-based Portland Fire and Rescue Engine 11. After the driver was loaded into an ambulance, it lingered at the scene for at least 20 minutes before departing for an area hospital – suggesting the driver was not seriously hurt.

Police later identified that fleeing driver as 35-year-old Richard Millican.

“Millican was issued a citation for Attempt to Elude in a Vehicle, Driving While Suspended, Reckless Driving, Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree – and Distribution and Possession of Methamphetamine,” Simpson remarked.

All of which might add up to the reason for Millican’s desperate – and unsuccessful – effort to get away from the cops.