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Fleeing stolen vehicle crashes, catches fire after driving through the US-Canada border

A Hyunda SUV involved in a pursuit that crossed into Canada where it crashed and caught fire is seen being hauled on a trailer (July 22, 2023). Photo courtesy of WSP

BLAINE, Wash. — Washington State Patrol (WSP) troopers received reports of an erratically driven Hyundai SUV northbound on I-5 in Skagit County and pursued it through Whatcom County before it drove through the US-Canada border without stopping.

WSP Trooper Anthony Reese told Whatcom News troopers were told the Hyundai’s erratic driving was responsible for nearly causing collisions. It was also determined the vehicle had been reported stolen.

About 7:45pm on Saturday, July 22nd, troopers located the vehicle and attempted a traffic stop in the northbound lanes of I-5 near the Slater Road interchange. Instead of stopping, the Hyundai accelerated, continuing northbound on I-5 reaching speeds around 115mph.

Troopers ended their pursuit as the Hyundai reached the Peace Arch border crossing. The suspect vehicle was seen crossing the border via the Nexus Lane without stopping.

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Canadian Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had been advised of the approaching vehicle. They reported the Hyundai continued to drive erratically and crashed into a civilian vehicle about 1 mile from the border.

The Hyundai caught fire as a result of the crash. The driver and lone occupant of the Hyundai was able to get out and attempted to flee on foot. RCMP arrived and attempted to take the driver into custody. He resisted, was tackled and an electronic stun weapon was used to gain compliance.

Reese said no details were available regarding the occupants of the other vehicle in the crash. Surrey RCMP said later that while the Hyundai had clipped another vehicle, it was the only vehicle involved in the crash.

The Hyundai driver, identified as Emil Abdullah Tunsel, age 21 and from Irvine, CA, was treated for his injuries in Canada and released to WSP troopers. He was booked into the Whatcom County Jail the following morning and charged with suspicion of the following crimes.

  • operating a vehicle without a valid operators license
  • attempting to elude a police vehicle
  • taking a motor vehicle without permission

As of Sunday, July 23rd, Tunsel remained in custody without the option for posting bail while awaiting a preliminary hearing.

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