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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of July 24 - 30, 2002


Pair of high speed chases roar down county roads

Express Staff Writer

Local police chiefs say it’s a wonder no one was killed last Wednesday during two nearly simultaneous high-speed chases—one near Sun Valley and the other south of Bellevue.

The first chase began in the early evening at Williams Market in Ketchum when police tried to nab a parole violator. They failed, and he led them up Trail Creek Road, east of Sun Valley, at more than 80 miles per hour.

While that chase was still under way, a Bellevue deputy spotted an Oregon woman roaring through town at an alleged 85 mph. The woman allegedly led patrol cars on a three-hour chase at more than 100 mph down Highway 75 and east and west on U.S. Highway 20, then along dirt side roads, stopping long enough to use her lipstick to scrawl an epithet to police on the inside of her windshield.

According to Ketchum Police Chief Cal Nevland, his office received information that Scott R. Nicholson, 26, a Hailey resident wanted for a parole violation on a burglary conviction, would be at Williams Market sometime Wednesday. Officers staked out the market, but when Nicholson hadn’t shown up by late afternoon, they reduced their forces to two men.

About 6:45 p.m., Nicholson was spotted entering the store. One officer went in the back door and the other went in the front and confronted Nicholson. The two grappled for a moment, but Nicholson eluded the officer’s grasp and fled to his 1996 Chevrolet Blazer in the parking lot. A second struggle there failed to subdue him and he sped out of the lot.

A Sun Valley officer happened to be driving west on Sun Valley Road toward Ketchum when he saw the Blazer fly by. He spun a U-turn, hit his overhead lights and gave chase. The Blazer sped through a red light at Saddle Road and disappeared.

Nicholson ran into another bit of bad luck when he roared past a Forest Service law enforcement officer parked at Boundary Campground. That officer joined the chase.

A mile or so farther out Trail Creek Road, the officers were flagged down by a citizen who told them he had just seen a car tear up Corral Creek Road. Both patrol cars turned up the road, but never saw Nicholson. Somehow, they passed him, and he was next seen heading back west on Trail Creek Road when Ketchum officers in two patrol cars tried to block his way at the Sun Valley Golf Course. He drove off the road and around them.

That’s the last time he was seen. His Blazer was found abandoned in Elkhorn the following day.

Bellevue deputies were listening to radio reports of that chase while it was occurring. When a 1999 Toyota Camry was seen careening through Main Street at 7:20 p.m., they assumed it was being driven by the same person the Ketchum officers were after, and a deputy gave chase.

Just south of the Bellevue city limits, the car accelerated to 115 mph, and the officer backed off. Throughout the subsequent chase, officers stayed close enough to keep the woman in sight, but far enough to avoid prompting her to go faster, Bellevue Marshal Randy Tremble said.

An Idaho State Police car, coming from the south, joined the two Bellevue marshal’s cars already in the chase.

The three officers found the car stopped along U.S. Highway 20 just west of Timmerman Junction. They stopped, leveled their guns on the Toyota and ordered the woman out.

"She cranked the stereo up while we were giving commands," Tremble said. "I felt like we were being baited, that she was trying to get us up to the car to do something."

He said the woman was making "furtive movements" under the seat, and officers feared she had a gun.

After four minutes, the car roared off, continuing west. Other cars had pulled up by that time, and Tremble said the officers considered it too dangerous to take a shot at the woman or her car.

After accelerating to about 80 mph, the car drove head-on toward an oncoming Dodge pickup truck. The truck veered off the road and avoided a collision. The officers roared by, and never saw the truck again.

By then, the officers were informed they were after a different suspect than were the Ketchum police. The Toyota had been reported stolen in Oregon two days earlier.

At Stanton Crossing, about two miles west of Timmerman Junction, the Toyota pulled half a U-turn and stopped sideways in the middle of the highway. The woman took out her lipstick and wrote on the inside of the windshield in backwards letters, "F… off." Then she headed back east, barreling through the stop sign at Timmerman Junction at 96 mph.

Still heading east on Highway 20, the Toyota began to pass an east-bound tractor-trailer truck on a blind curve. Halfway past the truck, a car appeared west bound. The Toyota swerved onto the north side borrow pit, passed both the truck and the west-bound car, then swerved back onto the highway.

The officers lost sight of the car after that, but notified the Butte County and Lincoln County sheriff’s offices.

The Toyota was next seen driving south through Carey at about 75 mph. It did a U-turn, then headed back north.

It was next spotted by a Butte County deputy, stopped on Fish Creek Road, on the north side of Highway 20 about eight miles north of Carey. The woman was throwing stuff out of the car.

"She kept reaching under the seat like she had a weapon," Tremble said. "She said, ‘Come on and shoot me!’"

The Toyota then headed north over Fish Creek Summit, turned onto an old, rough road leading to an abandoned cabin, and crashed into some trees. Officers pulled the woman from the car and placed her under arrest.

"She was fighting the whole time," Tremble said.

The chase had ended at 10 p.m. No one, not even the suspect, was injured.

The woman was identified as Elizabeth Hagerty, 28, a resident of Hillsboro, Ore. She is charged with eluding police officers and possession of a stolen vehicle, both felonies. After an examination by a designated examiner, Hagerty was transported to Canyon View Hospital, a psychiatric institution in Twin Falls, pending an arraignment July 31.

Tremble said Hagerty is a former cashier for the Sun Valley Co., which had fired her twice. He said she told police that she began speeding after she became angered at the fact that no one would lend her $8 to buy gas at the Chevron station in Hailey. The Wood River Valley just isn’t what it used to be, she complained.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.