A Waldport man led deputies from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office on a back-road chase on Thursday, May 28, before being apprehended on a multitude of charges.
This case began back on May 16, when deputies were dispatched to a disturbance outside a business in the 300 block of Hemlock Street in Waldport. A witness reported that two people involved in the disturbance had entered a vehicle and left at a high rate of speed after driving over the curb and landscaping. Deputies were familiar with the vehicle the witness described and attempted to contact the owner at his residence. However, he fled from the location just prior to deputies arriving.
The other person involved in the May 16 disturbance came out of the residence and began describing what took place. An investigation revealed that 48-year-old Waldport resident Richard D. Leach allegedly forced an unwilling victim into a vehicle at gunpoint. Leach then drove the victim to several places around the Waldport area before stopping at a location where the victim was able to escape. Leach physically assaulted the victim multiple times during the encounter.
A firearm was recovered during the investigation, and deputies searched for Leach extensively over the next several days. The vehicle Leach used in the incident was found burned on a remote forest road during the search, but Leach could not be located.
On May 28, at about 4:45 p.m., Leach was seen in a Toyota Corolla near milepost 3 on Highway 34 outside of Waldport. Deputies attempted to pull Leach over, but he refused to stop, and officers took off in pursuit. As the chase was underway, officers learned the Corolla had been reported stolen from a residence on Highway 34.
The pursuit lasted approximately 45 minutes over forest roads between East Canal Creek Road and East Eckman Creek Road. During that time, Leach struck a vehicle passing by and attempted to hit the involved patrol vehicles. Despite both rear tires going flat, Leach continued his attempt to elude deputies. To prevent the pursuit from going back into Waldport and heavier traffic, the vehicle’s front tires were deflated by using spike strips placed near the intersection of East Eckman Creek Road and East Lakeside Drive.
According to a press release issued by the sheriff’s office, the vehicle mechanically failed in the 500 block of East Eckman Creek Road and rolled to a stop. Leach refused to comply with repeated commands to surrender. Sheriff’s office patrol K9s Bonni and Nix were deployed. Nix entered the vehicle and successfully apprehended Leach. Medics were called to the scene to treat Leach for injuries he sustained during his encounter with the dogs. While being treated at the scene, Leach spit blood on emergency medical personnel, according to the sheriff’s office press release. He was taken into custody and transported to Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital.
Leach was charged with kidnapping in the first degree, unlawful use of a weapon, criminal mischief in the first degree, unauthorized use of a vehicle, attempting to elude police, aggravated harassment, coercion, pointing a firearm at another, two counts of reckless driving, menacing, assault in the fourth degree, failure to perform the duties of a driver, recklessly endangering another person, disorderly conduct in the second degree, three counts of offensive littering and criminal trespass in the second degree. His bail was set at $730,000.