Suspects in Flathead police chase, manhunt ID'd - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana


Suspects in Flathead police chase, manhunt ID'd

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(photo credit: JC Nichols) (photo credit: JC Nichols)
(photo credit: Photography By Jim Rahn) (photo credit: Photography By Jim Rahn)
Dominic Lee, 44, of Kalispell (FCSO photo) Dominic Lee, 44, of Kalispell (FCSO photo)
Amanda Brandt, 34, of Kalispell (FCSO photo) Amanda Brandt, 34, of Kalispell (FCSO photo)
Amanda Brandt of Kalispell (L) and Dominic Lee of Kalispell (R) (FCSO photos) Amanda Brandt of Kalispell (L) and Dominic Lee of Kalispell (R) (FCSO photos)

We've learned more about a Sunday afternoon pursuit and manhunt that took place in the Flathead.

Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry says deputies "initiated a pursuit with a vehicle that had been reported as stolen" after the pickup truck was spotted by the owner in the Columbia Falls area. The owner followed the stolen vehicle to Birch Grove Road where she met a deputy, according to Curry.

The pursuit began on Birch Grove Road near the intersection of Whitefish Stage Road when the deputy attempted to stop the stolen vehicle. The driver led authorities south on Whitefish Stage Road through the intersection of West Reserve Drive with speeds exceeding 80 mph.

Curry says officers used a spike strip at the intersection of White Bark Lane and Whitefish Stage that deflated one tire. The pursuit continued from Whitefish Stage Road onto Evergreen Drive, Helena Flats Road and then onto Montana Highway 35 where the stolen vehicle entered the Spruce Park Campground.

Curry says an officer used a PIT maneuver in the Spruce Park Campground and the pursuit ended when the stolen vehicle stopped with the front wheels over the bank of the Flathead River.

The driver of the pickup, identified as Dominic Lee, 44, of Kalispell then jumped into the Flathead River to avoid officers. Lee began swimming downstream and then got to the bank of the river near the Old Steel Bridge.

Curry says that Lee became hypothermic and was unable to move once he got to the river bank. He was pulled up onto the bank and then taken by boat to a waiting ambulance.

"We have dealt with the suspect quite a bit in the past. He's certainly not unknown to us," Curry said. "We didn't find out who it was until after he was fished out of the river but cases like this we're very happy that no one got injured, that the officers were safe, and that the suspect was safe in the end and that no one from the public was injured."

"When the suspect jumped into a very cold, very fast moving river there was a lot of concern for him. The officers worked very hard at trying to get to him safely, of course, and he did get close enough to shore that we were able to get our hands on him and get him out of the water, but it was very dangerous for the suspect at that point."

Though Sheriff Chuck Curry says no charges have been filed yet, the do plan to within the next couple days.. Lee is currently at Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

A passenger in the stolen pickup has been identified as Amanda Brandt, 34, of Kalispell. Brandt was arrested at the scene and is currently in the Flathead County Detention Center on pending felony charges, according to Curry. 

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