Men's joyride in stolen truck ends in crash near Gold Hill

A chase between two men driving a reportedly stolen truck and multiple police agencies ended this morning after the vehicle spun off the road into a ditch near exit 45A of Interstate 5.

Rodney Lee Gourneau, 22, of Gold Hill, and Blake Robert Wallace, 19, of Medford, were both arrested after running from Central Point police and the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, authorities said in a news release.

Gourneau, the suspected driver, is currently held in the Jackson County Jail on $27,000 bail on charges of attempting to elude police in a vehicle and on foot, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, reckless driving, first-degree theft and a felony warrant issued on a first-degree theft charge. Wallace is not listed in the jail records, but the sheriff's department reported that he was booked on a charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle and a warrant for possession of methamphetamine.

The chase started around 2:40 a.m. on Fifth Street in Central Point when an officer saw a white GMC truck running stop signs as it drove north.

"As soon as (police) turned his lights on, the vehicle fled," Central Point police Lt. Jeff Britton said.

Police abandoned the chase after two blocks.

Five minutes later, a sheriff's deputy came across the vehicle near the corner of Kirtland and Highbanks roads in Central Point. The truck again ran a stop sign, and the deputy tried to pull the vehicle over. Gourneau and Wallace did not stop. They drove north on Highbanks Road, rolling across private property before turning around and heading in the other direction, a sheriff's department news release said. Police laid down spike strips at several intersections until one at the corner of Table Rock and Wilson roads popped the truck's front tire.

Gourneau and Wallace turned west on West Vilas Road, continued on Hamerick Road to Biddle Road, then hopped onto northbound I-5. Gourneau attempted to exit at 45A but lost control and spun off the road into a ditch. Gourneau jumped from the vehicle and ran, police said. Wallace was arrested on scene.

Police set up a perimeter and the sheriff's department dog Chucky tracked Gourneau. He was found hiding in some bushes one-quarter mile away and arrested, officials said. Oregon State Police assisted in the capture.

The truck, which had been reported as stolen from Heritage Motors, was towed back to that Medford lot.

— Ryan Pfeil

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