Missoula Crime Report: High Speed Chase and Lane Splitting Cycles
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Even though there were only 12 felony arrests this past week, Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst related some very dangerous criminal activity, especially by Missoula drivers.
Fewer Cases this Week but Dangerous Criminal Activity
“We charged 12 new criminal complaints this week,” began Pabst. “Four of those were in the violent crimes category and one was a domestic (violence case). We had an assault on a police officer, a tampering with witnesses, and an intimidation case where the allegation was that the defendant was threatening to harm a law enforcement officer.”
Pabst elaborated on one specific case that put a number of Missoula residents at risk of injury or even death.
High-Speed Chase puts Missoula Drivers at Risk of Injury or even Death
“The allegations are that law enforcement attempted a traffic stop on the defendant,” she said. “He did not stop, but instead, he struck two cars in the parking lot of the Peak (Health Center) and then nearly struck a TFO (Task Force Officer) agent. He then continued on a high-speed chase traveling at high speeds in a 25-mile-per-hour zone including a school zone. Then he allegedly entered I-90 where the chase continued. He nearly ran several drivers off the road including a Montana Highway Patrol Trooper. Eventually, his engine blew and he ran into the median at an estimated 120 miles per hour.”
Another Case Involved Dangerous Drugs and Firearms
“The charges ended up being criminal possession with the intent to distribute as well as criminal possession of property subject to forfeiture,” she said. “The allegation was that law enforcement obtained a search warrant after the defendant threatened to stab people after brandishing a knife. Some of what the officers seized pursuant to the warrant included an AK (Kalashnikov), a bolt action rifle, three shotguns, two pistols, methamphetamine, cocaine, mushrooms, and significant amounts of cash.”
'Lane Splitting' is Legal in Montana, but Pabst Urges Caution
Pabst was asked about whether motorcycles are allowed to engage in ‘lane splitting’, meaning motorcyclists are allowed to split lanes provided that the rider observes a speed limit of 20 mph, and that the lane width is sufficient to allow safe passage.”
“We have the rule that you have to drive in reasonably safe and prudent manner at all times, so you can end up getting a careless driving ticket even if you think what you're doing is legal. However, if you're endangering other drivers, there's another reason for that rule. So, I'd recommend that motorcycle drivers not engage in that kind of activity and for drivers to look in your mirrors and engage in defensive driving; back to what we learned in Driver's Education.”
Pabst also referenced a tragic accident that occurred this week in which a pedestrian who was crossing a city street was killed by a motor vehicle. The victim’s name has not yet been released.
The Missoula County Attorney’s Office provides a weekly crime report every Friday morning at 9:00 on Talk Back. You can listen to Pabst's full report below: