On Wednesday, October 17, at about 12:44 p.m., Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) Deputy Cody Ruddell attempted to conduct a routine traffic stop for a speeding violation on State Route (SR) 96, east, near Seattle Creek. The vehicle’s driver failed to yield to the emergency lights and siren activated by the deputy and fled the scene at a high-rate of speed, driving recklessly through a nearby construction zone, occupied by a highway worker holding a stop sign. The vehicle swerved over the double-yellow line several times and passed several slower-moving vehicles in an apparent attempt to evade arrest. The vehicle’s driver ran through a red traffic signal at Beaver Creek as the vehicle traveled east on SR 96 at speeds ranging between 70 to 80 MPH on the windy, two-lane highway.
The vehicle’s driver continued to evade arrest for approximately 60-miles. In vicinity of SR 96 east of the Klamath River Bridge, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) deployed a spike strip that deflated one of the suspect vehicle’s tires. The vehicle came to a stop on the right-shoulder and the male and female adult occupants fled the vehicle on foot down an embankment and ran towards the Klamath River. The CHP’s H-14 helicopter crew arrived to assist with the pursuit. Other CHP officers and Deputies Stewart, Woods, Gusaas, and Lieutenant Behr Tharsing arrived to assist. The male vehicle occupant, later identified as Mr. John Jacob Lightle, 29, of Montague, was located hiding in bushes near the river. The female occupant, later identified as Ms. Jennifer Lynette Peters, 33, of Yreka, jumped into the Klamath River and attempted to flee the immediate area by floating down river. She was taken into custody by Lieutenant Tharsing and his SCSO canine “Aron.”
Mr. Lightle was arrested and booked for a felony arrest warrant and for resisting, obstructing, and delaying a peace officer while on-duty. Ms. Peters was booked for a felony charge of evading arrest in a vehicle, resisting, obstructing, and delaying a peace officer while on-duty, and she had one outstanding felony arrest warrant and two misdemeanor arrest warrants. Large amounts of narcotic paraphernalia, marijuana, stolen property, and burglary tools were located in the suspect vehicle, which will result in additional charges being filed against the suspects.
According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “This pursuit traversed approximately 60-miles of a two-lane highway and the driving actions of the suspects and the their effort to flee in the vehicle and later, on foot, jeopardized the safety of innocent motorists traveling on SR 96, they risked their own lives, and their actions endangered numerous peace officers. This was a good team effort by SCSO and CHP officers and leaders, which led to the successful resolution of this dangerous incident and series of troubling actions perpetrated by the suspects without anyone getting hurt, which is extraordinary given the totality of the circumstances. These crimes are still under investigation and anyone with information about the suspects’ actions in regard to the pursuit or other alleged offenses is urged to contact the SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”