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Car crash lands Bemidji man in hospital, jail

Christopher Ray Garcia

A 20-year-old Bemidji man went to the emergency room early Sunday after crashing his vehicle into an observation point along the Lake Shore Trail while fleeing from officers.

According to the Bemidji Police Department, at approximately 2:20 a.m., a vehicle was reported stolen from the 400 block of Irvine Avenue Northwest.

An officer traveling northbound on Bemidji Avenue near 15th Street Northwest saw the southbound vehicle, later known to be driven by Christopher Ray Garcia.

The officer, who used a radar gun to capture the vehicle's speed at 66 mph, turned the squad car around to follow the suspect, Police Chief Mike Mastin said Monday.

Another officer traveling northbound near 10th Street Northwest also witnessed the vehicle and clocked it going in excess of 80 mph before pursuing the vehicle.

Both officers in pursuit of the vehicle found it crashed into a rock-faced observation point located near the Lake Bemidji boat access south of the Paul and Babe statues. The vehicle hit a traffic sign and was wedged between a tree and the observation point.

Garcia was transported by ambulance to the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. He is currently being held at the Beltrami County Jail.

Garcia was arrested on suspicion of charges of felony motor vehicle theft, fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle and driving while intoxicated.

The accident is being investigated by the Bemidji Police Department.

Charges will be forwarded to the Beltrami County Attorney's Office. The Bemidji Fire Department, Bemidji Ambulance and Minnesota State Patrol also assisted.