Man pleads guilty in high-speed chase

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WALLA WALLA — A local man was sentenced Tuesday afternoon to time-served for leading a county sheriff’s deputy on a high-speed vehicle chase east of the city last month.

Jacob J. Melchor, 28, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle.

He then was ordered to spend 32 days in the County Jail, was given credit for that amount and released.

Melchor could have been sentenced to up to 90 days. But Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann went along with a prosecution recommendation in a plea agreement, which included dismissing initial charges of driving under the influence, which is a gross misdemeanor, and third-degree driving with a suspended or revoked license, a misdemeanor.

Lohrmann ordered Melchor to pay $1,637 in costs and fees, in addition to an as-yet undetermined amount of restitution.

Melchor also was placed on a year of community custody, a form of probation. Because the crime was alcohol-related, he must undergo an alcohol assessment and participate in appropriate treatment at his expense.

His past convictions include reckless driving, prompting Lohrmann to warn him about his escalating criminal behavior.

“It’s a scary trend,” Lohrmann said.

The pursuit of Melchor began about 11:45 p.m. Dec. 20 near U.S. Highway 12 at the exit to the Walla Walla Regional Airport after Deputy Ian Edwards saw the driver of a Chevrolet pickup — registered to Melchor’s father — commit numerous lane violations.

The driver, who turned out to be Melchor, started speeding south on Airport Way, east onto Isaacs Avenue and then onto Mill Creek Road.

Speeds reached 90-95 mph as the pickup passed two vehicles before continuing onto Blue Creek Road, according to a Sheriff’s Office report filed in court.

Just past Klicker Mountain Road, Melchor failed to negotiate a 90-degree turn while traveling at an extremely high rate of speed, left the roadway and crashed through a steel gate and a wooden fence.

Melchor — whose sandals fell off — fled in the darkness toward a creek. But Edwards located him about four hours later walking along the 5000 block of Mill Creek Road.

Melchor wasn’t wearing any shoes, his jeans were soaked from the knee down, and his hands and knee were scraped and bloody, according to Edwards.

Before Melchor was booked into jail, he told Edwards he woke up in a ditch and was walking home.

Breath tests at the jail revealed Melchor’s blood-alcohol level was at about 0.09. The legal driving limit is 0.08.

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