Intensive search leads to suspected car thief’s arrest
Jeremy Nance may be wishing he spent Thursday at home.
By the time the 19-year-old South Lake Tahoe man went to sleep Thursday night, he had been shot at and crashed a stolen car.
He tried to hide out at quite possibly the only house in Echo View Estates where the occupants had a police scanner tuned in to his alleged reckless exploits.
And before getting arrested, he was bitten by a dog – multiple times.
Nance was expected to spend Thursday night in jail on suspicion of vehicle theft and evading arrest.
South Lake Tahoe police reported spotting the suspect at 4:30 p.m. allegedly fleeing from a traffic accident he had been involved in minutes earlier on U.S. Highway 50 near Fairway Drive. At the time, he was westbound on the highway, a short distance away from the accident, in a convertible, yellow Ford Mustang reported stolen earlier in the day from within the city.
The suspect allegedly accelerated when officers tried to pull him over.
Police followed the Mustang through the “Y” intersection on Lake Tahoe Boulevard and northwest on Tahoe Mountain Drive.
The suspect reportedly drove through the neighborhood, nearly hitting the pursuing officers’ vehicles, before turning back onto Tahoe Mountain, where he sped past a police roadblock.
It was there that witnesses said a police officer fired once at the rear of the car – apparently missing -as it raced down the road.
Witnesses estimated the Mustang was traveling in excess of 80 mph when it failed to negotiate the right turn back onto Lake Tahoe Boulevard.
The car crashed into the trees lining the opposite side of the road.
From there, Nance ran through the trees.
Officers set up a perimeter around the area, known as Twin Peaks, and began searching the woods.
Nearly an hour later, the suspect knocked on the door of the Echo View Estates house of Glen and Bonnie Griffin on Summit Drive.
Coincidentally, the Griffins had been listening to police discuss the chase on their 24-year-old son’s police scanner.
So when they heard the knock, Glen Griffin was suspicious.
He recognized the man at the door as matching the suspect’s description and told his wife to call 911.
Meanwhile, he told the man at the door to stay put.
But the suspect ran away.
Glen Griffin followed.
“I thought, ‘I’ll chase him and maybe I can keep an eye on him until the police get here,'” Griffin said. “I lost him once he got into the woods.”
As nightfall descended, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Deputies and California Highway Patrol officers had joined police in tracking the suspect.
They continued scouring the wooded Twin Peaks area looking for footprints.
It was Deputy Terry Fleck, and his new police dog Tracker, who picked up the suspect’s tracks on a trail leading toward Lake Tahoe Airport.
As officers converged upon the trailhead off Jewell Road, across from the airport, Fleck shortly after 7 p.m. reported that his dog had helped him apprehend the suspect.
“I’ve got one suspect in custody, with multiple dog bites,” Fleck announced on the police radio.
From there, the deputy escorted the handcuffed suspect to awaiting officers at the trailhead.
Nance’s family reportedly asked police to check on their son Thursday morning because they were unable to contact him.
He was taken after his arrest to Barton Memorial Hospital for evaluation and treatment of his wounds.
Hospital officials reported Nance was discharged shortly before 9 p.m. From there, he was taken to the sheriff’s station for questioning and was expected to be booked into county jail.
The South Lake Tahoe Police Department has already begun a standard, internal investigation on the police officer’s decision to fire at the Mustang on Tahoe Mountain Drive, said Sgt. Steve O’Brien.
Police are also investigating Nance’s alleged involvement in the hit-and-run accident and the alleged vehicle theft, both within city limits.
The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, meanwhile, is investigating a possible assault with a deadly weapon charge against Nance for failing to stop at the police road block, which occurred outside city limits.
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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Officials said conversations are occurring daily in regards to reopening U.S. Highway 50, but there is still no estimated date as to when traffic may start flowing again.