High-speed car chase on Highway 116 ends with crash

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A California man who was airlifted to the hospital after leading Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies on a 100-plus-mph chase had a history of unsafe, intoxicated driving, according to Undersheriff Andy Pernsteiner.

Anaheim resident Zane Reggio, 38, was reportedly staying with friends in Port Ludlow when he borrowed a vehicle to buy marijuana in Port Hadlock on the evening of May 8.

On Reggio’s way north, one deputy recorded him speeding at 107 mph in a 50-mph zone around 6:45 p.m.

Although the deputy wasn’t able to catch up to the car, a blue BMW, and lost track of it as a result, he spread the word to his fellow deputies, one of whom spotted the same car traveling back south 10 minutes later, near Hadlock Building Supply on Ness Point Road, going 71 mph in a 25-mph zone.

Ultimately, even with Reggio’s sudden detour into the parking lot of the Port Hadlock QFC, Pernsteiner noted the relatively short distance, barely a mile, between where deputies engaged in pursuit of the vehicle for a second time, and the location where the blue BMW was halted by a collision with the roadway ditch on state Route 116 shortly before 7 p.m., after the driver lost control on a curve.

According to Pernsteiner, the pursuit reached speeds of more than 130 mph after Reggio passed through the gas pumps in the QFC’s parking lot, and the adjacent four-way stop.

Even after the car ejected Reggio, it continued down the hill alongside the road for another 100 feet, necessitating the full closure of state Route 116 at Oak Bay Road, while Washington State Patrol troopers assisted sheriff’s deputies in investigating the scene.

Reggio was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and Pernsteiner reported he’s undergoing spinal surgery there.

Pernsteiner pointed out deputies found both a pipe and marijuana on Reggio’s person, and added that Reggio was not only driving with a suspended license because of a previous DUI, but had also allegedly been drinking “heavily” prior to the car chase.

“License aside, he shouldn’t have been driving any vehicle that didn’t have an ignition interlock device, which his friends’ car didn’t have,” Pernsteiner said. “If he starts tearing off at super-fast speeds and we don’t chase him, then it’s like we’re condoning his conduct. But when we pursue him at high speeds, some people saw we helped cause the accident. It’s a Catch-22.”

Aside from not lending one’s intoxicated friend with a suspended license one’s own car to drive, Pernsteiner said a good lesson to learn from this incident is the value of defensive driving.

“Some folks were driving in the opposite direction from him, earlier that evening, when he came into their line,” Pernsteiner said. “If they hadn’t been paying attention enough to pull over, there would have been a head-on collision a lot sooner.”

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney James Kennedy confirmed his office has received charging papers for felony eluding law enforcement officers, driving with a suspended license and driving without a required ignition interlock device.

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