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Farm tractor chase through Central Whidbey ends with driver at gunpoint

This John Deere farm tractor was stolen Sunday and was part of low-speed chase down State Highway 20.  - Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times
This John Deere farm tractor was stolen Sunday and was part of low-speed chase down State Highway 20.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

A Central Whidbey man is facing two felony charges this week following a joyride down State Highway 20 on a stolen John Deere farm tractor.

The very-slow-speed chase ended with the man at gunpoint.

Island County Sheriff Office deputies and Coupeville deputy marshals took Josiah Blodgett, 24, into custody at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday just north of the Coupeville stoplight.

Blodgett had just led police on a four-mile chase that began at Jacobs Road and ended at the top of Sherman Hill near Wind Dancer Place.

He was armed with a shotgun, a pellet gun and was allegedly intoxicated.

According to a sheriff’s office report, the incident began a short time earlier at a home on Keystone Hill Road.

Blodgett’s aunt warned authorities that her nephew was intoxicated and just stole their neighbor’s tractor.

She also reported a shotgun was missing from the house.

A few minutes later, another 9-1-1 caller reported seeing Blodgett on the tractor and traveling northbound on Highway 20 near Island Transit’s headquarters.

Police located the man at Jacobs Road and attempted to pull him over with no success.

Another officer got out of his car at the Terry Road intersection and tried to wave him down.

“The driver smiled and waved at him and continued driving,” Undersheriff Kelly Mauck said Monday.

The officer jumped back into his patrol car and lit out after the renegade tractor, which was traveling about 15 mph, according to police reports.

Another officer soon joined the chase and the entire procession — the tractor and three pursuing patrol cars — passed through the Coupeville intersection.

With the shotgun stowed on the ride side of the rear fender, Blodgett was swerving back and forth across the lane and waving at passing motorists, according to the report.

Blodgett allegedly crossed the center and fog line numerous times and an officer positioned himself in the middle of the road to warn oncoming drivers.

A fourth deputy, arriving from the north, stopped ahead of Blodgett in the southbound lane. But instead of giving up, Blodgett allegedly veered toward him, the police report said.

The officer and several other vehicles “were forced to drive in reverse to avoid being hit by Blodgett,” the report said.

Blodgett then swerved back into the northbound lane but the patrol deputy continued on in reverse.

The chase finally ended when Blodgett pulled over and put his hands on his head just north of Sherman Road, more than five miles from where he started.

He was taken into custody and, according to the police report, became “extremely belligerent, partially resistant and yelling profanities” at deputies.

Officers also reported “a strong odor of intoxicants coming from Blodgett’s breath as he spoke.”

A search of the tractor revealed a “357 magnum replica pellet gun.”

The shotgun was not loaded but Blodgett allegedly had several unused shells in his pocket.

Blodgett faces felony charges of eluding police and vehicle theft.

As of Monday, Blodgett was still being held at the Island County jail.

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