WATCH IT: Air 1 Helps Recover Stolen Vehicle - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

WATCH IT: Air 1 Helps Recover Stolen Vehicle

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PRESS RELEASE FROM THE SPOKANE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: On Saturday, February 16th at 11:00 p.m., Spokane County Sheriff's deputies took a report of a stolen gold 2003 Honda Accord from the area of the 4700 block of North Upriver Drive.

Approximately an hour and a half later, Spokane County Deputy Daryl Smith responded to the area of 9800 block of North Alberta Court regarding a suspicious vehicle which was described as a gold Honda Accord. The witness also reported a second vehicle had arrived and the male from the gold Honda got out and was now seated in the second car.
 
Deputy Smith contacted the witness by phone as he waited a short distance away for another patrol unit to assist. The witness told Deputy Smith he could now see one of the males walking up his driveway. He heard the witness yell at the males and he began to drive toward the Honda's location. 

A couple of seconds later, Deputy Smith heard squealing tires and observed the gold Honda turn off the street and was now heading toward him.  He activated his emergency lights but the Honda continued to accelerate rapidly and sped past him. Deputy Smith was able to see the vehicle was occupied by one white male and he confirmed the license plate of the vehicle matched the one previously reported as stolen. 
 
With Deputy Smith now following behind, the Honda almost struck Deputy Satake's vehicle as it went around him on Five Mile Road. The vehicle turned north on Waikiki where the driver almost lost control as he continued to try and evade the deputies. After the roundabout at Waikiki and Mill Road, the driver accelerated to an estimated 100 mph and began to pull away from the deputies who were not traveling at that high rate of speed. 
 
Air 1, which was already in the air for a scheduled flight, heard the call and was now in the area. They easily spotted the Honda from the air as it traveled north on Mill toward Dartford.   Air 1 continued to follow the vehicle and updated its location to the responding ground units who had lost sight of it due to its continued high rate of speed. 

The Honda turned left and continued northbound on Little Spokane Drive.  Deputy Smith caught a glimpse of the Honda's tail lights which were approximately a quarter mile away. 
 
Air 1 continued to follow the Honda and advised its location to the patrol units who kept the speeds low due to the extremely windy road.  A short time later, Air 1 advised the Honda had either crash or stopped at the intersection of Midway and Little Spokane Dr.
 
When patrol units arrived at the intersection, they observed the Honda had gone off the road and was lying on its top. The single male occupant was inside and later identified as 20-year-old Vladimir A. Stepanov. Stepanov received medical treatment at the scene and was transported to Holy Family Hospital where he was later released and arrested.
 
Stepanov was transported to the Spokane County Jail where he was booked on new felony charges of Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Attempting to Elude and a misdemeanor of Driving While License Suspended 2nd Degree in addition to several confirmed warrants for charges including Theft, Trafficking Stolen Property, Theft 2nd Degree and others.
 
While at the jail, deputies located 2 credit cards in Stepanov's wallet belonging to another person.  They checked the name on the credit cards and located a vehicle prowling report where the victim's wallet and credit cards were stolen.  Stepanov was also charged with 2 additional felonies of Possession of Stolen Property 2nd Degree. 
 
This incident demonstrates the value of Air 1 and why it is such an extremely valuable asset to the safety of our community and law enforcement in the region. We thank our volunteer pilots who fly Air 1 and help this program be a success.     
 
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