Humboldt County Deputies arrested a man yesterday afternoon after a lengthy vehicle pursuit near Weitchpec. Shortly after 1:30 PM, sheriff’s deputies were driving on State Route 169 when they saw someone driving an SUV they recognized as having been reported stolen last summer. Sheriff’s deputies attempted to stop the vehicle but the driver failed to yield. Officials from the US Marshal’s Office and the National Park Service had been in the area and assisted deputies. Sheriff’s deputies also notified the California Highway Patrol in Willow Creek.
Deputies followed as the driver of the SUV, Michael Eugene McLaughlin, 57 of Weitchpec, continued along SR169 and then turned off onto a dirt road about three miles north of Martin’s Ferry Bridge. Deputies continued behind the SUV, which was being driven between five and ten miles per hour. Eventually, McLaughlin entered onto Upper Capel Road and then back onto SR169. Deputies, a US Marshal, and a Park Ranger followed McLaughlin with their lights and sirens on as he turned onto Mitchell Road, then onto Irongate Road, Upper Capel Road, and eventually back onto SR 169. McLaughlin made that same loop a second time, allowing CHP Officers enough time to set up a spike strip.
At about 2:50 PM the SUV reached Irongate Road at Upper Capel and the front tires were flattened when the car ran over the spike strip. McLaughlin was then taken into custody without incident. A search of the vehicle revealed a fully loaded .22 caliber handgun on the floorboard in front of the driver’s seat. A check of the vehicle’s VIN number confirmed that the vehicle was stolen.
McLaughlin was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was booked for vehicle theft, possession of a concealed firearm, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, possession of stolen property, and evading a peace officer. His bail was set at $50,000 and he is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.