Driver arrested after chase

Christopher Matthew Levi Benzel

A 25-year-old Vernonia man led Keizer police officers as well as officers from other agencies on a chase through country roads before crashing into a ditch and fleeing on foot Wednesday May 27.

The driver was arrested by members of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office about 100 yards from the car.

The incident began about 11:30 a.m. when a motorcycle officer from the Keizer Police Department attempted to stop a green Subaru Legacy for running a red light near the intersection of 7th Avenue Northeast and Faymar Drive Northeast. The driver accelerated away from the scene attempting to elude the officer.

Shortly after the chase began, the driver turned into a cul-de-sac and forced the pursuing officer off the road as he made his way back out, according to police officials.

Other KPD officers joined the pursuit and soon the chase moved north of Keizer on River Road North.

The pursuit continued east on Waconda Road Northeast and then the driver turned north on Howell Prairie Road Northeast.

A Gervais Police Department officer successfully deployed spike strips near the intersection of Howell Prarie Road and Mt. Angel/Gervais Highway. The pursuit ended near the area of 12900 Howell Prarie Road NE when the Subaru’s driver drove through a ditch and fled on foot.

The Subaru, which had been reported stolen in March by a Woodburn resident, sustained damage from the crash and was towed from the scene. Christopher Matthew Levi Benzel, the driver, complained of minor pain and was transported by ambulance to Salem Health for an evaluation. He was later transported to the Marion County Jail.

Benzel was arrested on an outstanding warrant and is charged with attempting to elude police in a vehicle and on foot, attempted first degree assault, criminal mischief, reckless driving, reckless endangering, unauthorized use of a vehicle and unlawful possession of heroin. His bail was set at $85,000.