Mental health patient flees ER, steals car, leads chase

A mental health patient left the hospital against doctor’s orders, stole a car, led police on a high-speed chase and rammed into a cop car early Wednesday morning, according to court documents.

Caleb A. Alford, 25, appeared in Island County Superior Court Wednesday afternoon. Judge Vickie Churchill found probable cause existed to believe he committed the crimes of attempting to elude pursuing police vehicles, taking a motor vehicle without permission, assault in the second degree and driving with a suspended license.

Chief Criminal Prosecutor Eric Ohme asked the judge to set Alford’s bail at $100,000 because he presented a threat to the community and is a flight risk. He was wanted on two warrants when the incident occurred.

Churchill agreed.

Alford refused to sign papers in court.

“None of this is right,” he said. “That’s not me.”

According to a report by a deputy with the Island County Sheriff’s Office, the deputy was in Coupeville helping other officers with finding a mental health patient who had fled the emergency room at WhidbeyHealth Medical Center; the patient was later identified as Alford.

The deputy saw a silver Buick traveling at an estimated 70 mph in a 25 mph zone on South Main Street. The deputy turned on his lights and sirens and pursued the vehicle, which started going even faster.

The deputy and other officers terminated the pursuit on county roads because of the danger to the public, but started chasing the car later after it reappeared. The Buick traveled very slowly on Highway 20 through Coupeville with several police cars following behind.

The Buick eventually pulled to the shoulder and seemed to be giving up, the deputy wrote. Another deputy pulled in front of the car to block it, then the Buick suddenly accelerated and rammed into the right passenger side of the deputy’s car.

Alford put his hands out the window and yelled that God and Satan told him to run and he was sorry and suffered from schizophrenia. He was arrested.

Alford told a deputy that he was fleeing because the hospital had tried to medicate him and “the devil had told him that it was not medicine and that he needed to escape,” the report states. Also, he claimed the hospital tried to sell his designer clothes.

Alford also admitted to stealing the car, the deputy wrote.

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