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Lengthy area car chase nets arrest of driver

A high-speed chase on Saturday, Oct. 12, encompassing a considerable amount of Lake County mileage ended with the arrest of the offending driver in Modoc County.

Lake County Sheriff Phil McDonald said that Michael Valgene Brison, 21, was arrested near the Cedarville junction by the California Highway Patrol after an extended pursuit.

The chase included Oregon State Police and Town of Lakeview police officers and encompassed more than 100 miles.

The sheriff said the incident commenced with the report of an erratically-driven vehicle spotted traveling eastbound on Highway 140 near Bly.

The call came in from former Town of Lakeview Police Officer Parker Hetherwick, now employed by the Burns Paiute Tribal police department who was performing a transport when Brison passed him at a high rate of speed.

Hetherwick called in the vehicle, a 2013 Chrysler 200 from an Avis rental agency. Lake County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Turkle stopped Brison after clocking him at 85 miles per hour near Drews Valley Ranch. McDonald said that the deputy observed unusual behavior during the stop, as Brison left the car running and in gear, repeatedly pulling the car forward only to flee the scene.

The deputy engaged in a pursuit and McDonald said that OSP Sgt. Steve Yates laid out spike strips near Andy Hill Road.  Brison slowed and managed to drive around the strips, continuing eastbound.

Another set of strips were placed near Thomas Creek by Town of Lakeview Police Officer David Sytsma, but Brison swung the car around and retreated westbound, heading south on Airport Road and east on Stock Drive.

The chase then proceeded northbound on South F Street, ultimately continuing on Highway 395, where Brison pulled into the Lakeview Shell gas station.  An attempt to box his vehicle in failed and Brison managed to escape, continuing north.

A report of an erratic vehicle traced Brison’s travels to the Hogback Road near Plush, which is where he encountered Carol Machala-Cotham, a motorist passing through the area from Colorado.

McDonald said that Brison passed Machala-Cotham and slowed down, engaging her in a repeated cat-and-mouse type action that eventually resulted in her stopping.  After abandoning his car just north of Plush, Machala-Cotham allowed Brison a ride in her vehicle.

After she started driving, he climbed up front and commandeered her car, forcing her to stop and exit the car.

Following contact with Machala-Cotham, Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Tague confirmed Brison’s location.  Spike strips were laid north of Lakeview, which Tague evaded once again, continuing southbound.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Department issued a warrant for Brison’s arrest and is seeking his extradition to Lake County to be charged with unauthorized used of a motor vehicle, attempting to elude and kidnapping in the second degree.

Assisting agencies included the Oregon State Police, Town of Lakeview Police, U.S. Forest Service and BLM Law Enforcement, the Modoc County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol.

Brison is currently lodged in the Lake County Jail, having been extradited from Modoc County early last week.

Modoc County Undersheriff Ken Richardson said that Brison was initially transported to the Modoc County Jail, where he was placed in a safety cell. In Modoc County, he was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and reckless evading and eluding a peace officer.

Richardson also said that Brison’s behavior at the time of his arrest was too violent for police officials to initiate a blood draw to test for intoxicants.

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