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Troy man in critical condition after leading authorities on chase

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
Hagadone News Network | January 15, 2024 4:20 PM

A Troy man with a troubled past is in an Idaho hospital after a police chase Saturday evening that involved authorities from multiple jurisdictions before ending just over the Montana-Idaho border.

According to a press release from Libby Chief of Police Cody Ercanbrack, Caleb Covey, 37, is listed as in critical condition at Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for several self-inflicted wounds following a chase that began in Libby and ended in Bonner County, Idaho.

The chase ended after Sanders County Sheriff’s Office deputies successfully deployed spike strips, authorities said. Covey allegedly continued south on deflated tires and eventually on rims after hitting the strips. He drove west on Montana 200 into Idaho where deputies with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office apprehended him.

Deputies rendered lifesaving medical aid to Covey before transporting him to a responding ambulance, officials said. He was later flown to Kootenai Health.

The incident began at about 3:32 p.m., Jan. 13 when Covey allegedly intentionally crashed his pickup into the side of a Dakota Avenue home in Libby. He attached a tow strap to a parked vehicle and dragged it through town, officials said. While towing the stolen vehicle, Covey allegedly struck multiple vehicles as well as a residential fence and an electrical pole. 

The stolen vehicle flipped on its side as it headed south on California Avenue, officials said.

A Libby Police officer located the vehicle at California Avenue near the intersection of U.S. 2, according to authorities. The officer attempted to stop the vehicle, but Covey allegedly kept going and continued to drag the vehicle east on U.S. 2. A slow speed pursuit ensued through town. 

During the pursuit, a pickup with a plow attached stopped in the roadway and was struck by the towed stolen vehicle, officials said. The tow strap broke off leaving the stolen vehicle in the road. Covey then allegedly drove north on California Avenue, leaving city limits.

According to the press release, Libby Police officers and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputies continued to pursue the vehicle west on Pipe Creek Road. The pursuit was terminated due to the dangerous speeds and road conditions, officials said. By then, the motorist in the suspect vehicle was identified as Covey, according to authorities.

Covey's past includes two run-ins with law officers dating back to 2015. He was arrested on April 23, 2015 following a domestic disturbance at his home. A plea deal where two counts of assaulting a peace officer were dropped in exchange for a guilty plea to two counts of misdemeanor resisting arrest saw him get a suspended sentence in 2016.

Covey received a 10-year sentence, with five suspended, in 2019 following a drunken police chase in September 2018. At some point, Covey was paroled. He remained under the supervision of the state Probation and Parole Office in Libby.

After abandoning the chase last weekend, officers and deputies returned to Libby to assess the damage and render aid to anyone in need.

Covey was later reported to be coming back into town and deputies reinitiated the vehicle pursuit. During the pursuit, Covey allegedly crashed into another motorist’s vehicle and drove west on U.S. 2 toward Troy. Libby Police Officers broke off from the pursuit so as to not leave Libby without a law enforcement presence, officials said.

Deputies, though, continued to pursue Covey's truck, which headed west on U.S. 2 to the intersection of Montana 56. Covey turned south on Montana 56 and drove into Sanders County, authorities said. At about mile marker 4.5 on Montana 56, Sanders County Sheriff’s Office deputies successfully deployed the spike strips, eventually bringing Covey to heel, officials said. 

The incident is under investigation by the Libby Police Department, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and Idaho State Police.

"The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and the Libby Police Department would encourage all motorists that if you see a vehicle pursuit or law enforcement with their emergency lights activated to please move as far off the roadway as possible," Ercanbrack wrote in the release. "This will help keep everyone safe and allow law enforcement to focus on stopping the pursuit or safely arriving where they are needed. If your vehicle is damaged by a pursuit, park in a safe location and call dispatch."

"We are so grateful for our wonderful and brave community that we have the honor of serving," he added. "We are also thankful for our law enforcement partners who assisted with this case."