Two Kalispell residents have denied their role in a high-speed police chase that occurred in April and ended when one of the suspects allegedly dove into the river to avoid arrest.
Dominic Lee pleaded not guilty to criminal endangerment and theft and Amanda Brandt pleaded not guilty to theft on May 11 in Flathead County District Court. Both defendants will stand trial in November.
According to law enforcement and court documents, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office 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.
If convicted, Lee could face up to 20 years in prison and Brandt could face up to 10 years.