Stolen vehicle driven into river

by Victor Martinez
| June 25, 2020 1:00 AM

BONNERS FERRY — Mikael Merrifield, a Moyie Springs resident, was spotted by Boundary County Sheriff deputies in a stolen vehicle on Cow Creek Road, which resulted in the truck becoming lost in the Kootenai River, according to a Boundary County Sheriff’s Office press release.

BCSO officials said they received a report of a stolen Toyota Tacoma last seen driving south on Highway 95. Deputies pursued the vehicle and attempted to stop Merrifield, which led to a high-speed pursuit.

According to the press release, Merrifield continued to drive erratically and attempted many evasive maneuvers to escape law enforcement; the high-speed pursuit proceeded onto a railroad access road in Crossport.

Burlington Northern Railroad halted train traffic in response to the police pursuit, officials said in the release.

The pursuit continued along the Kootenai River and train tracks for over a mile; Merrifield drove on the train tracks and eventually drove off a steep embankment and into the Kootenai River.

A strong current swept the vehicle downstream with Merrifield inside; this led to law enforcement to deploy a sheriff’s patrol boat in an attempt to apprehend Merrifield.

Law enforcement maintained visual of the vehicle and Merrifield as he swam the river and onto the shore, police officers and sheriff’s deputies were able to apprehend Merrifield.

Boundary Ambulance evaluated Merrifield and law enforcement booked him at the Boundary County jail, there are numerous charges against Merrifield, and a bond amount set at $35,000. No details on those charges were available.

Local and state emergency management agencies have become notified of the incident; law enforcement officials believe no hazardous materials leaked into the Kootenai River.

As for the stolen truck in question, officials said it is still missing.