Bend man in police chase, crash dies

Officers say he had drugs in system, stolen gun

Bend man dies week after police chase crash

BEND, Ore. - A 24-year-old Bend man critically injured in a crash that ended a police chase just over a week ago has died at a Bend hospital, police confirmed Friday. They also released more results of their investigation, saying the man had drugs in his system, possessed a stolen handgun and was on a cellphone during the fateful pursuit.

Police Lt. Chris Carney said they were notified Thursday evening that Benjamin Robert Watson had passed away at St. Charles-Bend, where he was taken after the chase and crash late the night of May 29th.

In late May, Carney said, police received information that illegal drug activity and sales were occurring, along with reports of stolen weapons, at a home at 2020 NE Holliday Avenue.

The white 1993 Honda Civic Watson was driving during the pursuit was at the Holliday Avenue address earlier that evening, Carney said, and known to have expired registration.

Around 11 p.m., an officer spotted the car at SE Brosterhous and Parrell roads, the lieutenant said.

"Having reason to believe the occupant … may be involved in illegal drug activity and weapons possession, the officer requested assistance and attempted to make a traffic stop" on the car, Carney said in a news release.

But the driver sped away, leading to a pursuit that went about five miles in a span of several minutes, reaching speeds of at least 65 mph in light traffic. The chase ended when Watson lost control of his car, which crashed and overturned on SW Brookswood Boulevard at Rancho Road, throwing him from the car.

Carney said Friday an investigation revealed Watson had amphetamines and methamphetamines in his system, and possessed a stolen handgun at the time of the crash.

Officers also learned that Watson was talking on his cell phone with a woman during the pursuit. Police did not identify who she was, but said they interviewed her, and that Watson told her he was in a pursuit "and she was able to hear police sirens in the background."

"She also said that Watson may have believed there was a warrant out for his arrest, for failing to contact his probation officer," Carney said.

Shortly after the phone call ended, Carney said, someone else called the woman, telling her Watson had just been involved in a crash.

The investigation led police to information that William Paden Hill, 23, lived at the Holliday Avenue home and was involved in illegal drug activity and stolen guns, Carney said.

Police contacted and arrested Hill at the Shopko parking lot the evening of June 1, when three handguns were found in his car, two with serial numbers filed off, Carney said. A raid on his home turned up two sawed-off shotguns, methamphetamine and a restricted knife.

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