Chase through Portola includes rammed CHP vehicle, but suspect arrested

It all began with a a hit and run in the Sierra Valley and ended with an arrest near Nakoma outside of Portola. Following is an account of the event by the California Highway Patrol, as well as from the Plumas County Sheriff’s report.

On Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, at approximately 6:39 p.m., CHP Officer P. Connelly responded to a report of  a vehicle side swiping another in the Sierra Valley near Beckwourth.

One of the vehicles involved, a green Dodge 1500 pickup, left the scene and headed westbound on Highway 70 from the Buttes.

Officer Connelly located the Dodge traveling westbound on Highway 70 near Dotta Guidicci Road and initiated an enforcement stop.  The Dodge immediately accelerated, and a pursuit ensued reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph.

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The Dodge turned westbound onto County Road A-15 from Main Street in Portola and Officer Connelly briefly lost sight of the Dodge. The Dodge made a U-turn, came back toward the A-15 and Main Street intersection, as Officer Connelly began to make a right turn from Main Street onto A-15. The Dodge ran the stop sign at the intersection, and according to the CHP, intentionally rammed the left front of Officer Connelly’s patrol vehicle and continued to flee.

A Plumas County Sheriff’s deputy observed the collision and began to pursue the Dodge.  The deputy eventually lost sight of the Dodge and discontinued the pursuit.  Officers located the Dodge abandoned in a nearby restaurant parking lot (Nakoma) and searched the building.

During the search, a silver Subaru pulled up to the scene with the suspect (the registered owner of the vehicle) in the right front seat claiming the Dodge was stolen.

Officer Connelly positively identified the suspect (Erik Rebert Johnston of Portola) and placed him under arrest at 9: 56 p.m. for  assault with the deadly weapon, hit and run collision, felony evading a police officer, a DUI charge causing injuries, and battery against a police officer.

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Officer Connelly was unharmed, and the patrol vehicle sustained moderate damage to its left front end and right rear tire.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.