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Wild car chase ends in prison

A 26-year-old man, whose address is listed as a state prison in court papers, was sentenced Monday in connection with a high-speed chase across South Whidbey two years ago that left a woman seriously injured.

Ace Harris pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court April 16 to vehicular assault and attempting to elude a pursing police vehicle. As part of a plea bargain, prosecutors dropped several other charges, including two counts of assault in the third degree and possession of stolen property in the first degree.

Judge Alan Hancock agreed with the joint sentence recommendation worked out by the prosecution and defense. He sentenced Harris to two years and one month in prison and ordered him to pay $12,311 in fines and fees. After Harris gets out of prison, he’ll be watched by the Department of Corrections for up to three years.

The report by Washington State Patrol Detective Scott Whitman describes a wild and lengthy car chase across South Whidbey at speeds up to 90 miles per hour.

The incident began near Oak Harbor on May 20, 2005, when a driver reported a speeding Ford Escort passing cars in a no-passing zone at about 7:20 p.m. The license plate reported belonged to an Escort reported stolen out of Snohomish County.

About 30 minutes later, Island County Deputy John Sawyer tried to stop the car on Highway 525 near Useless Bay Road. The driver, later identified as Harris, initially stopped, but then accelerated southbound on the highway with several cops in pursuit.

In Clinton, the Escort slid sideways and nearly struck the Simmons Garage building. Deputy Sawyer and an officer from Langley tried to block the car from escaping near the ferry dock. The Escort collided with Sawyer’s car twice and the other police car once before fleeing north on Highway 525.

At the intersection of Highway 525 and Houston Road, a Coupeville deputy marshal deployed a spike strip across the road and the right front tire of the Escort drove over it.

The Escort veered off the roadway, rolled and came to rest against a tree. A passenger in the car, a 24-year-old woman, had to be airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment of a skull fracture.

Harris told a trooper that he drank beer, injected methamphetamines and smoked marijuana earlier in the day, Whitman wrote.

At the time of the crash, Harris was wanted on a warrant for violating community custody. Harris, formerly a Camano Island resident, is a registered sex offender, previously convicted in Island County Superior Court of child rape.

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