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Ferndale Police vehicle file photo (July 25, 2016). Photo: Whatcom News

Portal Way traffic stop turns into pursuit of stolen vehicle

FERNDALE, Wash. — A Ferndale Police officer attempted to stop a vehicle in the 6500 block of Portal Way yesterday, June 25th, about 7:15pm. Instead of stopping, the vehicle sped away.

According to Lieutenant Matt Huffman, the officer checked the license plate of a silver 1990s Ford F-250 pickup truck heading southbound on Portal Way and discovered it belonged to a Hyundai sedan. The officer turned on his vehicle’s emergency lights in an attempt to stop the pickup truck.

Instead of stopping, the pickup truck drove through a trailer park in the area and then back onto Portal Way heading northbound.

By this time staff at What-Comm dispatch had learned that the Bellingham Police had recently issued a stolen vehicle report for a 1990’s Silver Ford F-250 and advised the Ferndale Police officer. The officer then activated his vehicle’s emergency siren. Again, instead of stopping, the pickup truck sped away continuing on to Enterprise Road. 

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Huffman said the officer continued to pursue the suspect vehicle, with speeds approaching 90mph. The pursuit went northbound on Enterprise Road through the S-curves at Harksell Road to Willy’s Lake Road. The pickup truck headed eastbound on Willy’s Lake Road and then northbound on Rathbone Road. The pickup began slowing near Parklyn Way and eventually pulled into a driveway where the driver was taken into custody without further incident.

A check of the Ford F-250’s vehicle identification number (VIN) confirmed it as being the one reported stolen by Bellingham Police. 

The driver was identified as Israel R. Hernandez, age 24. Hernandez was booked into the Whatcom County Jail under suspicion of attempting to elude a police vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle and 3rd degree driving while his license was suspended.

Hernandez was found guilty of identification theft in 2017 and 2nd degree theft in March of 2019.

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He remained in custody as of this afternoon according to jail records. He was scheduled to make a preliminary appear in Whatcom County Superior Court at 3pm today.

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