A man arrested on suspicion of leading Missoula law enforcement on a high speed pursuit Tuesday morning and almost striking a school bus and cyclist faces multiple charges.
Robert T. Wade, 34, is charged with two counts of felony criminal endangerment as well as felony theft. He also faces three misdemeanors: a first offense driving under the influence, fleeing from or eluding a peace officer and failure to remain at an accident scene.
Missoula police tried to make a traffic stop Tuesday morning on a Dodge Ram truck that made an unsafe passing maneuver, according to charging documents filed in Missoula County. This was near South Higgins Avenue and Brooks Street.
Wade failed to yield to the officer and took a right onto Tremont Street — the officer said he reached speeds up to 56 miles per hour to catch up with Wade. South Higgins' posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour.
Wade traveled onto Connell Avenue. He eventually went down a dirt road, kicking up dirt and creating a plume of dust. The Missoula officer lost Wade’s truck.
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Shortly after, a Montana Highway Patrol trooper saw the truck on I-90 near mile marker 108. The trooper noticed Wade’s speed was about 97 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone, charging documents stated. The truck accelerated to 108 miles per hour.
After switching between eastbound and westbound lanes on the interstate, Wade took exit 109 and drove into the oncoming lane while rounding the corner for the overpass.
He turned south off Highway 200 toward the Town Pump in Bonner.
The trooper hit Wade’s truck with his patrol car, causing him to come to a stop. Wade had a passenger as well as a dog in the car with him. Law enforcement found opened alcohol containers.
Wade was sweating profusely and claimed Al-Qaida was chasing him. He didn't answer any more police questions.
Investigators determined the truck Wade was allegedly driving was from Washington state. It had been reported stolen, with a value estimated to exceed $5,000.00.
Officers spoke with construction workers who witnessed the chase near the Beartracks bridge. They saw Wade’s truck almost hit a bicyclist while turning left on South 4th Street East.
The officers talked with other witnesses who reported being worried Wade’s alleged actions may have injured them.
A school bus driver (who was the only bus occupant at the time) encountered the suspect while driving on the freeway. The driver had to swerve off the road to avoid Wade, and was worried the bus might roll because of the embankment.
Justice of the Peace Landee Holloway set bail at $75,000. Wade's arraignment is set for June 6 in Missoula County District Court.