Zack Berntsen was at work at Wing Stoves and More on North Freya when he heard a giant wreck that sounded like rolling thunder.
Just before 2 p.m. Saturday, a chase involving deputies ended in a multiple-vehicle crash at the intersection of North Freya Street and East Trent Avenue, according to a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office news release.
A deputy started the pursuit after the driver of the truck, 35-year-old Burk T. Simonson, fled the scene of a suspected theft in the 5600 block of East Sprague Avenue, according to the release.
Simonson was wanted for allegedly escaping community custody and had several warrants for his arrest for suspected fraud, identity theft, robbery and theft, the release said.
The pursuit continued north on Havana Street from Sprague with little traffic around, according to the release.
Just before the crash, Simonson drove into lanes of oncoming traffic and the deputy following stopped chasing him, the release said.
Then Simonson ran a red light at the intersection of Freya and Trent, according to the release. His pickup struck a car at the intersection, which in turn struck a third vehicle, Deputy Fire Chief Rex Strickland said.
The third vehicle then crashed into a power pole, which split down the middle before part of the pole landed on the car, Strickland said.
Berntsen said he went outside as soon as he heard the crash to see if he could help. Authorities were there within seconds, he said. Simonson jumped out of the pickup – now crushed on its driver’s side door – and started running, Berntsen said.
Berntsen followed him into an alley and got in front of Simonson before he “just ran as hard as I could at him and tackled him.”
Berntsen said a deputy appeared right away and tried to handcuff the man. The release said Simonson resisted and the deputy cuffed him after a short struggle.
Seeing the car that collided with the pole, Berntsen said he “thought somebody was dead for sure.”
Firefighters had to cut it open to remove its two occupants, who were transported to a hospital with minor injuries, Strickland said.
Simonson was transported to the hospital for what appeared to be minor or moderate injuries, according to the release.
About an hour after the crashes, the smashed tan pickup truck sat diagonally in the roadway on Trent. The second car, still in the intersection, sat with the left front tire caved in and the hood partially detached, crushed over the windshield.
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