Events took an interesting turn for four members of the Mineral County Sheriff’s Department during a recent trip to Mina to serve an Emergency Protection Order. Sheriff Stewart Handte, Undersheriff Steve McBride, Sergeant Earl Perry and Deputy Gabe Andrada witnessed the incident.
“We were southbound on Highway 95 about three miles north of Luning, when I noticed a vehicle approaching the rear of our car at a high rate of speed. I knew it was a civilian car because Sergeant Perry and deputy Andrada were directly behind us,” said Handte.
The group had entered the no-passing zone just north of Mina when the vehicle, driven by Danny Stout of Idaho, tailgated Handte and McBride’s car before attempting to pass in oncoming traffic. “If I hadn’t hit the brakes to give him room to slide in between us and the tractor trailer just ahead, there would have been a crash. As it was, he forced a white SUV off the road,” Handte said.
After passing Handte and sliding in behind the semitrailer, Handte turned on his emergency lights to initiate a traffic stop. The vehicle kept going even after Handte added his siren to the mix. Handte and McBride also noticed the subject moving about in the vehicle, which caused great concern for the two.
Perry and Andrada activated the lights and sirens in their vehicle, but the suspect kept driving. Handte said they followed the suspect for at least two miles with lights and sirens activated.He eventually pulled over in the northern limits of Luning.
“We took him out a gunpoint because we had safety issues going on. We took him into custody immediately. As soon as I got close to him I noticed the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath,” Handte said.
A subsequent search of Stout’s vehicle turned up a snifter with a small amount of scotch, and a half-filled bottle of scotch in a cooler in the back seat. “Single-malt, to his credit,” McBride said.
Handte and McBride guessed that the unusual movement in the car possibly indicated the suspect trying to put the bottle back in the cooler after he realized he passed the officers.
When police inquired as to his destination, Stout answered he was on his way to a Mt. Whitney climb with friends he planned to meet there, “Not today,” answered McBride and Perry at the same time.
Perry and Andrada transported the him to the Mineral County Jail where the officers booked him on numerous misdemeanor charges including: DUI, failure to yield, reckless driving, open container and other charges.
Handte and McBride served the Emergency Protection Order shortly afterward. Both men said such diversions from EPOs are rare. “We had to divert momentarily and take immediate action on the suspect. Someone could have been hurt or killed by this driver, We had to take action,” McBride said.