Kendall, Wash. — Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) deputies and Washington State Patrol (WSP) troopers recovered a stolen pickup truck towing a travel trailer after following it for over 10 miles.
WCSO Spokesperson Deb Slater told Whatcom News via email that deputies responded to a report of a stolen vehicle parked in the Peaceful Valley area about 2:30pm on Thursday, May 12th. They located a vehicle traveling northbound on Kendall Road (SR547) with license plates matching the reported stolen vehicle.
According to radio transmissions at the time, a deputy followed the vehicle as it made its way through Pleasant Valley neighborhoods and then returned to Kendall Road heading southbound to Mount Baker Highway (SR542).
Slater said deputies initiated a traffic stop in the 6400 block of Mount Baker Highway. The vehicle failed to stop and continued westbound, swerving past two tire spike attempts by deputies and recklessly swerving in the oncoming lane of travel with vehicles approaching.
WSP Trooper Jacob Kennett told Whatcom News that troopers had blocked the eastbound lane of Mount Baker Highway east of the roundabout with Valley Highway (SR9) and laid spike strips in the westbound lane. The vehicle’s front right tire appeared to have been damaged by a spike strip. Troopers blocked eastbound traffic at the roundabout.
Kennett said troopers were the lead vehicles following the pickup as it continued at or below the speed limit westbound to Mitchell Road. It then headed south on Mitchell Road through a Mount Baker High School school zone where multiple school staff and students were visible.
Slater said deputies did not attempt to stop the vehicle due to its proximity to students and continued following from a distance.
Kennett said the vehicle drove into the school bus garage lot off of Deming Road, which is a fenced and gated area. While driving through the lot it struck a school bus’s mirror and a piece of farm equipment.
He began to flee to a grassy area within the fenced lot but became compliant and was taken into custody after a trooper displayed a less-lethal shotgun that fires beanbags. According to radio transmissions at the time, this occurred was about 3:10pm.
The driver was identified by Slater as William Kellems, age 27, of Tacoma.
Kennett said the white pickup had been spray-painted black with red handprints. It was noted Kellems had red and black paint on his clothing.
While being taken into custody, Kellems attempted to give deputies a false name according to Slater. Kellems would later admit to deputies he was driving the vehicle at the time he was being followed and the subsequent collisions.
Whatcom County Jail records indicate Kellems was booked into the jail and charged with suspicion of the following crimes.
- 3rd degree driving while his license was suspended
- hit and run of an attended vehicle
- hit and run of an unattended vehicle
- attempting to elude a police vehicle
- possession of a stolen vehicle
- 1st degree criminal impersonation
Kellems has prior convictions for 3rd degree assault of law enforcement officer and taking a vehicle without permission in 2015 out of Yakima County Superior Court and attempting to elude a police vehicle and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription out of Kittitas County Superior Court in 2014.