Flight from police in stolen pickup earns jail time

A Quesnel man was sentenced Tuesday to 395 days in jail for leading police on a wild and lengthy chase while behind the wheel of a stolen pickup truck.

Eric Roger Johnson, 27, was also sentenced to 18 months probation and issued a two-year driving prohibition for the February 10 incident that began when Quesnel RCMP were told a pickup had gone missing from a parking lot in the community 116 kilometres south of Prince George.

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An officer spotted the vehicle on Highway 97 heading north. When the member tried to pull Johnson over, he took off. In the name of public safety, RCMP chose not to pursue him but Prince George and North District RCMP were alerted and an RCMP helicopter was deployed.

RCMP tried for a second time to pull Johnson over at Red Rock but without success and he kept on going. With RCMP converging and the helicopter overhead, Johnson's ride ended at Ginter's Field where he tried but failed to flee on foot.

Johnson was driving like an "absolute madman" according to a witness.

"He did a couple 360s and ended up swerving in behind me so I pulled over," Britt Bruneau told the Citizen at the time.

No one was injured but Johnson did collide with a marked RCMP vehicle during the pursuit.

Johnson, who has remained in custody since his arrest for a total of 99 days, was sentenced on four counts. He received 395 days for dangerous driving, and concurrent terms of 213 days for fleeing police and motor vehicle theft. He was also convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol level over .08. The probation applies to all the counts and the driving prohibition to all but the theft count.

- with files from Frank Peebles

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