Fleeing felon makes grave mistake in Parkrose

Not all streets connect to NE Sandy Boulevard, as this driver found out – but really, trying to make a getaway through a cemetery is a bad idea …

The tracks tell the story: These ruts in Columbia Cemetery’s sod show where a fleeing Jeep driver tried to go “cross country”, after smashing into a police car.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It was just a routine “disturbance call” that a Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officer was completing – with a prisoner in tow – at about 12:42 a.m. on December 11, in the Parkrose neighborhood near NE Wygant Street and the 4700 block of NE 99th Avenue.

Yes, routine – until a Jeep backed out of a nearby driveway and smacked into the rear bumper of the patrol car!

“Neither the officer nor the prisoner was injured,” revealed PPB Public Information Officer Lt. Robert King.

Neighbors look at the damage done to memorials in Columbia Cemetery.

But, when officers got out of their cars to investigate this fender-bender, they were almost run down by the driver, King added. “Officers had to dive out of the way to avoid being hit. Once out of the driveway, the driver accelerated north on NE 99th Avenue.”

One would think a local would know that NE 99th Avenue dead-ends at NE Sandy Boulevard; it was closed off years ago. But, not this guy.

Perhaps it was the felony warrants he had pending that caused the driver to recklessly careen through a cemetery to try to get away.

“Then the driver attempted to drive through Columbia Cemetery,” continued King. “He hit a berm, causing the Jeep to go airborne. The Jeep landed at an angle, and rolled over onto the passenger side, sliding to a stop.”

Police say this man, 43-year-old Richard S. Beeler, now faces eight additional charges.

The driver, 43-year-old Richard S. Beeler, wasn’t about to be taken without a fight, officers reported. “Beeler became resistive with officers as he was being taken into custody, and he was Tased,” said King. “Beeler had a passenger – 31-year-old Ruth Ott – and both had felony warrants for Drug Manufacturing.”

Oddly enough, Beeler was not involved with the original police call, King pointed out – apparently he just saw cops and bolted.  “He was transported to an area hospital as a precaution due to the severity of the crash; he suffered non-life-threatening injuries.”

Following his treatment at the hospital, Beeler was booked in the Multnomah County Detention Center in downtown Portland on the drug warrant. But he also racked up an impressive list of additional charges:

  • Four counts of Attempt Assault in the first degree,
  • Felony Hit and Run,
  • Abuse of a Memorial to the Dead,
  • Criminal Mischief in the first degree,
  • Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants,
  • Reckless Driving,
  • Resisting Arrest, and
  • Felony Attempt to Elude.

“Additional charges may be brought against Beeler after further investigation,” King concluded. According to MCDC records, Beeler remains in custody, with bail set at $18,000.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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