WSP: Detained man steals deputy's SUV, crashes into tree

BOW, Wash. -- A Christmas day police call about a man acting erratically in Skagit County took a turn for the bizarre when the man stole a deputy's SUV, led Washington State Patrol troopers on a chase and crashed into a tree.

It was just after noon when a Skagit County Deputy responded to a home near Bow where a 30-year-old man was reportedly acting strange and may have damaged a neighbor's house, according to WSP Trooper Keith Leary.

When he arrived, the deputy found the man and put him in the backseat of his Ford SUV police vehicle. While the deputy was interviewing neighbors, he turned around and saw his vehicle speeding away, according to Leary.

Leary said it appears the suspect, who was not handcuffed, slipped through a partition into the front seat.

The deputy immediately called the information in and it was broadcast to all troopers in the area. A few minutes later, a trooper spotted the SUV near Ershig Road and attempted to pull it over.

The driver led the trooper on a brief chase before crashing through a fiberglass fence and into a tree. The SUV, which was brand new, was totalled in the wreck, according to Leary.

The suspect was not seriously injured, but he was taken to Skagit Valley Hospital for precautionary reasons and for a mental health evaluation. It's unclear if drugs or alcohol played a role in the episode.

Troopers are investigating the incident.