Bail has been set at $20,000 for the Vancouver man accused of fleeing Centralia police officers last month after being caught stealing catalytic converters. He was arrested Wednesday after a chase that began in Centralia and continued into Cowlitz County.
Ethan J. Lazo, 27, faces one count each of eluding a police officer and driving under the influence after he allegedly fled from officers who were conducting a welfare check on Lazo and a second person.
Officers had initially responded to a report of two passed out people inside a vehicle with no license plate that was blocking the entrance to a business in the 1300 block of Kresky Avenue at approximately 9:15 a.m. on May 25, according to court documents.
Officers noted that both were sleeping and slumped over and likely “on the nod” based on numerous items of suspected drug paraphernalia strewn around them in the vehicle, according to court documents.
Officers were reportedly “concerned about potential overdose” and woke the pair, asking the driver for the keys to prevent them from driving under the influence, according to court documents. The driver, who was later identified as Lazo, reportedly woke up and “immediately pushed the button-start for the vehicle and took off at a high rate of speed,” according to court documents.
“Suspecting the driver was under the influence, the officer pursued the suspect through Centralia, into Chehalis, then onto (Interstate) 5. The driver continued southbound into Cowlitz County until Castle Rock Police were able to deflate the vehicle’s tires with a spike strip,” stated the Centralia Police Department in a news release on May 26.
Court documents note that the pursuit lasted almost 20 minutes and covered almost 30 miles.
Lazo reportedly reached speeds up to 130 mph and was seen weaving dangerously through traffic and passing vehicles on the right shoulder of Interstate 5, according to court documents.
Officers noted “Lazo came dangerously close to a collision as vehicles attempted to move out of the way,” according to court documents. At one point, Lazo reportedly drove into a concrete barrier on the side of the freeway and continued driving.
Lazo was arrested following the chase. He was booked into the Lewis County Jail at 6:20 p.m. on May 25.
Lazo’s passenger reportedly told officers she and Lazo had used fentanyl before officers woke them in the vehicle, according to court documents.
According to police, a search warrant later served on the vehicle revealed suspected fentanyl pills and methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and tools used to steal catalytic converters.
Law enforcement later confirmed Lazo had an outstanding warrant out of Oregon for charges including first-degree forgery and failure to appear.
Lazo has five active warrants out for his arrest in Washington, including driving under the influence charges, according to Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello. Masiello requested the $20,000 bail amount during Lazo’s preliminary appearance in Lewis County Superior Court on Friday.
Defense Attorney Rachael Tiller asked Judge Joely Yeager to set Lazo’s bail at no higher than $10,000 due to Lazo’s financial situation and his lack of failure to appear history in Washington.
“The state’s request is more than reasonable at $20,000,” Yeager said on Friday, citing Lazo’s criminal history and the active arrest warrants. Yeager added that she believed Lazo presented a community safety risk due to his DUI history.
Lazo signed a waiver of extradition on the Oregon case, meaning he will be turned over to Oregon authorities to deal with that case once his local cases are closed.
Bail has been set at $10,000 for the Oregon case.
Lazo’s next appearance in Lewis County Superior Court is an arraignment hearing scheduled for Thursday, June 2.
A news release from the Centralia Police Department noted that Lazo is believed to be the same person who sped away from Centralia police on Magnolia Street last month. The issue drew media attention due to the fact that officers discontinued the chase as it moved through a neighborhood based on their interpretation of new state laws restricting officers’ ability to pursue suspects.
State law prohibits police from getting involved in high-speed pursuits with anyone not suspected of driving under the influence or violent or sexual crimes.
"Because of current Washington state law, officers were prohibited from pursuing and were forced to allow the suspect and his female passenger to get away," wrote the Centralia Police Department in a report on the incident.
As of Friday afternoon, no charges related to that incident had been filed in Lewis County Superior Court.