Suspecteludesofficers: 22-year-old auto-theft suspect was tracked by OnStar
The driver of a GMC Sierra truck reported stolen by OnStar navigation system eluded authorities who surrounded an empty shed believed to be the hiding spot for the man who ran away after crashing.
Phillip Mikkola, 23, allegedly stole the truck Friday at Elks Point Road and Highway 50 in Douglas County and was reported moving by OnStar to authorities around 1:05 p.m., said South Lake Tahoe police Lt. Martin Hewlett.
As of Sunday, Mikkola was still not apprehended.
The truck, which reportedly had a gun inside, crossed into California and was spotted by police officer Pierre Herring traveling westbound on Pioneer Trail at Ski Run Boulevard, Hewlett said.
Herring lost sight of the truck because of the vehicle’s speed but spotted it in a snowbank at Needle Peak Road, Hewlett said. The left front tire was hanging like a broken limb.
James Lucas and Robert Brown were traveling toward Ski Run Boulevard when the truck swerved in front of the car in front of them.
“He was barreling around that corner,” Brown said.
“He ripped the tire right off so he was probably going 50, 60 miles per hour,” Lucas said.
The two looked as the man ran up Needle Peak Road toward a house. Officers, with guns drawn, searched the area on foot as other officers swarmed the area of Ski Run Boulevard to assist in the manhunt.
Mikkola reportedly flagged down a motorist driving a cable company vehicle for a ride, Hewlett said. The motorist told authorities he thought Mikkola was holding his stomach, as if injured. Jeff Munson 2/26/06 did the cable guy give Mikkola a ride? Call put into Billy.
On the crest of Needle Peak Drive, which is separated by a gate in winter, officers found footprints leading into a red shed but no footprints leading out. Officers surrounded the area, setting a perimeter around the shed. Since the police department had no canine officer on duty (one is being trained to be on the job in May), El Dorado County sheriff’s Deputy Damian Frisby and his dog, Riker, were called from Carson Valley.
The two were in the valley attending a funeral for a Douglas County sheriff’s canine dog which died in an accidental patrol car fire.
Police Sgt. Dave Stevenson noted it would take awhile for Frisby and Riker to appear.
“Him and every dog within a 100-mile radius is down there,” he said.
Across the street from the suspected shed, Guilliam Nel, owner of Hansen’s Toboggan & Saucer Hill was told to evacuate guests from his property.
Asked if he gave people a refund, Nel said he didn’t have the chance.
“By the time I explained it everybody seemed gone,” he said.
Roughly an hour passed as authorities waited for the sheriff’s dog and tools to open an ajar door in the shed. Officer Mike Dente, who stood behind a tree close to the shed, was talking into the small structure but receiving no response.
A South Lake Tahoe Fire Department fire engine and ambulance parked nearby on Ski Run Boulevard.
At 2:30 p.m., authorities stormed the shed, firing a shock grenade coupled with Riker’s barks. “Nobody inside,” Stevenson said over the radio.
“Riker searched the area, picking up a trial that led to Mackedie Way where it was lost. Hewlett guessed the patches of dirt helped disguise the tracks. The search turned cold and was called off at 3:20 p.m.
Mikkola reportedly was involved in a stolen car chase in Placerville. He is described as a white male, 5-foot-11 inches tall, 180 pounds with brown hair and green eyes. He was wearing a white baseball cap, a dark blue sweatshirt with flames on the sleeves and blue jeans.
Anyone with information on Mikkola can contact the South Lake Tahoe Police Department at (530) 542-6100 or can leave anonymous tips at Secret Witness at (530) 541-6800.
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