Bend man flees police at ER, steals van, caught after chases

Wild day began with bleeding man in Old Mill

BEND, Ore. - A 30-year-old Bend man who was seen running around Bend's Old Mill District Monday morning, bleeding from his leg, was taken by police to St. Charles Bend for evaluation, officers said. But he ran from the ER, stole an electrician's van and went through a fence, driving erratically and dangerously around town until he was recaptured.

Shortly before 8 a.m., Deschutes County 911 dispatchers received information that an unidentified man was running around the area of the Old Mill District. The male had mentioned he was "stabbed" and had a non-life threatening injury to his leg, Lt. Clint Burleigh said.

Police responded to the area and eventually found the man, identified as Christopher Van Wambeke Ward, at the roundabout at Reed Market Road Southwest Bond Street. Burleigh said Ward admitted the injury to his leg was self-inflicted.

Based on the circumstances, Ward was taken to St. Charles-Bend for evaluation.

Police were with Ward at the hospital's Emergency Department when he ran out the locked doors, ran under a fence and jumped into a Tomco Electric box-style van, Burleigh said.

“He was able to break open some locked doors and run by security personnel and police, got out and was able to quickly find a vehicle he was able to steal,” Burleigh said.

Ward then “led officers on a quick chase,” the lieutenant said. “He was driving pretty dangerously through town and caused a lot of people to risk their lives.”

Ward stole the van and raced out of the parking area around St. Charles, driving through a temporary fence in place for construction at the hospital, damaging several vehicles belonging to St Charles employees, the lieutenant said.

As he left the parking lot, Ward also nearly struck a Bend police officer with the van.

Officers searched the area, found the stolen van and tried to stop Ward, but he refused to pull over "and drove in an erratic and treacherous manner, putting several community members at risk," Burleigh said in a news release.

As a result, police discontinued their pursuit of the van and set up in areas Ward has been known to frequent.

County 911 received several driving complaints from concerned citizens regarding the stolen van, Burleigh said, causing damage to the Church of Christ at 61691 SE 27th Street (Church of Christ).

Shortly after Ward eluded officers, he was found within their search perimeter. But he again eluded police, eventually parking the stolen van at a business on American Loop. Burleigh said Ward tried to steal a red Subaru there, but eventually left without it.

Burleigh said Ward walked west on Reed Market Road, crossed the empty irrigation canal and entered a third vehicle at a home in the 600 block of Reed Market Road.

Bend police, sheriff's deputies and Oregon State Police found Ward in that vehicle and he was taken into custody without incident at 12:45 p.m.

Nearby Silver Rail Elementary School was placed on a brief lockout during the incident, meaning exterior doors were locked, Burleigh said.

Ward was taken back to St. Charles for clearance and evaluation of new, non-life-threatening injuries.

He was taken to the county jail late Monday afternoon and lodged on numerous charges, including two counts each of attempt to elude in a vehicle and reckless driving, as well as single counts of first-degree attempted assault on a public safety officer, first-degree criminal mischief, unlawful entry into and ue of a motor vehicle, failure to perform the duties of a driver (hit and run) and second-degree criminal trespass.

His bail totaled $106,000.

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