A 44-year-old Kalispell man was taken into custody after leading police on a high-speed car chase before diving into the Flathead River in hopes of evading arrest.
The alleged driver turned diver, Dominic Lee, was taken to Kalispell Regional Medical Center to recover from hypothermia and will likely be charged with theft and evading arrest in coming days. Charges are also pending against the passenger, 34-year-old Amanda Brandt of Kalispell, who was also arrested following the car chase. She is currently incarcerated at the Flathead County Detention Center.
According to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement received a report of a stolen vehicle on April 16. The owner of the vehicle spotted it near Columbia Falls and started to follow it until law enforcement could join the pursuit. Sheriff’s deputies and Montana Highway Patrol troopers followed Lee down Whitefish Stage Road at speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour. Near Evergreen, law enforcement deployed a spike strip that deflated one tire but failed to stop the suspect.
Eventually, the chase ended at the Spruce Park Campground where a sheriff’s deputy struck the stolen vehicle with his own, forcing the driver to lose control and stop. The vehicle ended up on the bank of the Flathead River where Lee allegedly dove into the water and started swimming downstream. Lee passed under the Highway 35 Bridge and made it about a mile before giving up because of the cold. Law enforcement took him into custody on the side of the river and he was treated for hypothermia before being transported to the hospital.