A man accused of leading police on a destructive high-speed chase with his pregnant girlfriend in the car from Airway Heights to downtown Spokane, where he abandoned his car and jumped into the Spokane River, appeared in court Monday.
A Spokane County Superior Court Judge set suspect Casey R. Gillette’s bond at $60,000, taking into account his alleged June burglary of a gun and a motor-vehicle theft as well as last week’s chase.
Airway Heights police officers attempted to pull over Gillette, who was driving a black Volkswagen Jetta, for not having license plates around 4:30 a.m. Friday.
Gillette sped east on U.S. Highway 2, driving up to 30 mph over the speed limit, running through stop signs and driving over a spike strip deployed by an officer, according to court documents.
His girlfriend, Melissa A. Buchheit, who was reportedly nine months pregnant at the time, was in the passenger seat during the high-speed pursuit.
She later told police that she asked Gillette to let her out of the car more than 10 times during the pursuit but that she did not feel like she was being held hostage, court documents say.
Pursued by police and Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies, Gillette entered Interstate 90 traveling east, according to Spokane Police Department spokesman Sgt. Terry Preuniger.
Gillette reportedly exited the highway in downtown Spokane and continued to drive at a high rate of speed, before continuing through a construction zone on Lincoln Street and hitting two chain-link fences.
With his Jetta dragging fencing, Gillette then hit two road barriers and the car’s front right wheel fell off. Gillette continued to drive north on Division Street and collided with the Globe Bar and Kitchen building, causing minor damage, according to court records.
The car’s front left wheel then fell off, causing it to roll into the Spokane Convention Center loading area.
Gillette abandoned the car and Buchheit, and he jumped over the bridge railing onto the ground beside the south bank of the Spokane River. The fall broke his ankle, Preuniger said, but Gillette entered the river and swam to the north bank.
Police detained Buchheit without incident.
A water rescue team from Spokane Fire Department and Spokane Valley Fire Department responded with inflatable kayaks to assist police in their search for Gillette, according to Preuniger. The Spokane Sheriff’s Department also responded with a helicopter, drones and police dogs.
Officers eventually found Gillette covered in rocks along the north bank in a spot with dense bushes. He was arrested and taken to the hospital before being booked into the Spokane County Jail.
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