A Grants Pass driver who thought he was in a video game while high on LSD drove the wrong way on Interstate 5 and other roads before being arrested Saturday evening after a wild chase through three cities, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
Anthony Joseph Clark, 23, of the 7000 block of Lower River Road was taken into custody on felony charges including eluding officers in a vehicle, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and first-degree criminal mischief. The charges were filed by Ashland police, Oregon State Police and sheriff deputies. Clark is lodged in Jackson County Jail on $77,500 bail.
Clark, who told police he had taken the hallucinogen earlier in the day, told officers he thought was in the video game “Grand Theft Auto” as he led police on a chase through Ashland, Talent and Phoenix.
“I’m just glad nobody got hurt,” said sheriff Sgt. Julie Denney.
The chase began when Clark stole a 2003 Toyota Camry that had been impounded by deputies who had pulled two different drivers over for driving under the influence at Highway 66 and Emigrant Lake Road, Denney said. The deputies were waiting for tow trucks.
“There was a huge gathering out there at Emigrant Lake,” she said. A boat operator was also arrested for being under the influence, she said.
Police had received calls from people at the lake about a man who was exhibiting strange behavior.
When Clark entered the impounded Camry at 8:25 p.m., a trooper attempted to stop him, but Clark was able to drive off, eventually heading into Ashland, Denney said.
Clark turned onto Interstate 5 at Exit 14, driving north on the shoulder of the southbound lanes, she said.
At mile marker 16, he turned around and headed south back toward Exit 14, where an Ashland police officer caught up to him, Denney said. The chase led down Ashland Street toward Southern Oregon University, and the Camry turned north on Walker Avenue and crashed through multiple gates off the roadway. At that point, police backed off because the pursuit was heading through populated areas.
The Camry was spotted driving south on Siskiyou Boulevard in the northbound lanes before it turned around and headed north through downtown. A sheriff’s deputy followed at a distance as the Camry headed north toward Talent. Talent police officers deployed spike strips near the intersection with Rapp Road. Despite two flat rear tires, the vehicle headed north in the southbound lanes of Highway 99 through Phoenix.
A Phoenix police officer deployed more spike strips at the intersection with Northridge Terrace, deflating the front tires.
Medford police and sheriff deputies blocked off roads ahead, and deputies finally brought the Camry to a stop in the 3400 block of Highway 99. According to Denney, Clark attempted to ram a patrol car and then ran from the Camry.
Troopers chased the suspect and took him into custody as he was attempting to steal another vehicle in the Glenwood Mobile Home Park, Denney said.
Clark has other charges against him, including possession of a stolen vehicle, interfering with a peace office, escape, recklessly endangering another person, driving under the influence of intoxicants, criminal trespass and offensive littering, according the Jackson County court records.