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Man involved in high-speed Western MT pursuit to face charges in 2 counties

Posted: 2:40 PM, Jul 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-09 17:37:05-04

POLSON – We are learning new details about a high-speed police pursuit through the Mission Valley that landed a man in jail.

Sheriff’s deputies from both Missoula and Lake County — along with Ronan and CSKT Tribal Police all worked together late Sunday night to safely arrest a suspected car thief.

A Lake County deputy identified a vehicle in Ronan at around 11:15 p.m. on Sunday that had been reported as stolen out of Missoula County earlier that day.

The deputy noticed the stolen car at a gas station. The suspect, Matthew VanValen, 29, saw him, too. He released a dog that was in the stolen vehicle leaving the animal at the gas station and then he took off south on US Highway 93 toward Missoula.

“And at that point, the pursuit ensued. They traveled out of Ronan at a high rate of speed trying to elude,” Lake County Sheriff Don Bell told MTN News.

“They traveled — and a Ronan officer assisted at that point — and they traveled down to about mile marker 10 where [the] Montana Highway Patrol and Missoula County deputies had set up stop sticks. And they stop-sticked the vehicle at the point,” he added.

Matthew Harold VanValin, 29, of Missoula (photo credit: Missoula County Sheriff’s Office)

VanValin continued driving for a short distance until the tires were too flat to continue.

“The vehicle at that point traveled a short distance further and ended up stopping at Gray Wolf Casino and then a short foot pursuit ensued after that where the male suspect was taken into custody without further incident,” Sheriff Bell told MTN News.

Law enforcement say the vehicle was stolen from Missoula County, but the pursuit started in Ronan which is in Lake County. The pursuit ended at the Grey Wolf Peak Casino in Evaro.

VanValen is now facing charges in both Missoula and Lake counties, a development that Sheriff Bell says will require collaboration between officials from both jurisdictions through the investigative and legal process.

“He will be charged with the crimes that he committed in Lake County and then he is currently in Missoula County where he was apprehended,” Sheriff Bell explained.

“Because it went into two counties we will also give them our report so they can show that this person was in fact in custody of that stolen vehicle. So its concurrent jurisdiction between the two counties,” he concluded.

Reporting by Connor McCauley for MTN News