A man who led law enforcement officers on a 120 mph chase on Interstate 90, then rolled a stolen car on the Orange Street exit ramp Friday morning is being held in the Missoula County jail on $50,000 bail.
Leon Andrew Harlson, 23, gave a Billings address when he appeared before Missoula County Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech on Friday afternoon.
The defendant faces three misdemeanor counts relating to the crash and one felony theft charge for allegedly stealing a 2004 Honda Accord from Kaleigh Lassle of Gillette, Wyo.
According to an affidavit filed by Assistant Chief Deputy County Attorney Suzy Boylan, Harlson crashed the vehicle around 8 a.m. Friday after leading Montana Highway Patrol and Missoula County sheriff’s officers on a high-speed chase westbound on Interstate 90.
Highway Patrol Trooper Paul Pfau said he spotted the stolen vehicle and initiated a traffic stop about 7:50 a.m., but Harlson would not pull over.
Pfau said speeds during the chase reached 120 mph. As the Accord neared Missoula, Harlson weaved in and out of rush-hour traffic. Missoula police attempted to set up stop sticks at the Van Buren exit, but Harlson was able to avoid them.
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He attempted to maneuver around a second set of stop sticks just before the Orange Street exit, but hit them and lost control of the vehicle. He skidded down the exit, and rolled the vehicle, ending up upside-down and facing the exit’s entrance.
Harlson wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and was the vehicle’s only occupant. He initially appeared to be unconscious, but was eventually able to follow commands.
He was transported to St. Patrick Hospital, but didn’t appear to be suffering from any serious injuries during his initial appearance.
Boylan requested the high bail amount, saying the man has a significant criminal history, including a probation violation, partner or family member assault and obstruction charges, albeit no prior felonies.
His driving privileges were suspended in both Montana and Wyoming, the affidavit stated.