Chase ends in crash, arrests

A chase involving police and two men driving a stolen GMC truck ended Monday 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 arrested after fleeing from Central Point police and the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, authorities said.

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 (the officer) 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. The truck drove north on Highbanks Road, traveling 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.

The truck turned west on West Vilas Road, continued on Hamrick Road to Biddle Road, then hopped onto northbound I-5. The driver 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 there.

Police set up a perimeter and the Sheriff's Department K-9 Chucky tracked Gourneau. He was found hiding in some bushes a quarter-mile away and arrested at about 3:30 a.m., officials said. Oregon State Police assisted in the capture.

Gourneau, whom police suspect was the driver, was being held late Monday 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 on a first-degree theft charge.

Wallace was booked on a charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle and a warrant for possession of methamphetamine. He was released from jail because of overcrowding, the Sheriff's Department reported.

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

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or email

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