The Chelan County Sheriff's Office says a suspect is in custody after a repurposed school bus was stolen over the weekend.

The suspect is a man who faces eluding and possession of a stolen vehicle charges for theft of the bus just before 8 p.m. Saturday night on Highway 2 in Cashmere.

The Sheriff's Office says deputies did not chase the bus when it failed to stop because a new state law prevents them from doing so.

They say the suspect was spotted earlier walking in the area of Osprey Rafting wearing a yellow sun dress.

KPQ news partner I-Fiber One reports the man had been released from a mental hospital (Western State Hospital), and after abandoning the stolen bus, traveled 190 miles to Chewelah, where he stole a front loader and used it to throw a car into his own house and punch a hole in the home.

I-Fiber One also reports the suspect's estranged wife was not home at the time.

The Sheriff's Office says it will release more information when it becomes available.

In a Facebook post, the office shared its reason for declining to chase the bus:

HB (House Bill) 1054 states 4 elements are required for law enforcement to pursue a vehicle:

  1. Probable Cause for a VIOLENT OFFENSE, SEX OFFENSE or ESCAPE (from custody or detention facility) or reasonable suspicion for DUI
  2. Pursuit is necessary to identify or apprehend the person AND
  3. The driver possess an imminent threat to the safety of OTHERS, AND the risk of failing to apprehend or identify the person is greater than the risks of vehicle pursuit AND
  4. Supervisor has provided authorization.
    If these four prongs are not all met, we as law enforcement cannot pursue vehicles in Washington State any longer.


Image from Chewelah Independent Facebook page