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Van Buren Street foot bridge damage from police chase

The Van Buren Street foot bridge was damaged late Monday evening after a driver led law enforcement in a vehicle chase over the bridge.

Three men were taken into custody Tuesday after leading police on a car chase over the footbridge near the University of Montana, and running away into the nearby dog park, according to Missoula police.

Debris from Tuesday evening's chase was on still display Wednesday morning, with plastic bits from a Dodge vehicle in the grass and one of two concrete barriers missing from its place at the end of the footbridge after being struck by the vehicle.

Also at the scene, near the tire tracks torn into the wet grass near Jacobs Island dog park, was a Missoula County District Court document listing the conditions imposed on 24-year-old Gabriel Despaigne while he was released from jail to pre-trial supervision earlier on Tuesday.

Despaigne, Devon Morris and James Ruthford were each arrested after fleeing from the crashed car toward Jacobs Island dog park near the University of Montana, Missoula Police Sgt. Travis Welsh said Wednesday. University of Montana Police assisted in the foot chase once the pursuit reached the university's side of the bridge.

Welsh said the chase began on the 300 block of East Spruce Street Tuesday evening. The suspect's vehicle led police onto Interstate 90, out to East Missoula and then back toward downtown Missoula. The car then turned onto the footbridge near the university.

Morris, 23 and the alleged driver, is charged with violating the terms of his release from jail. He also had an outstanding warrant from Flathead County, Welsh said. He is being held without bond.

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Ruthford, 37, is charged with violating his probation and obstructing police for running away. 

Despaigne, 24, is currently charged only with obstructing police. He was charged with felony theft two weeks ago for allegedly stealing a car that was warming up outside a house on Missoula's Northside.

Missoula County District Court records show Despaigne was released from the Missoula County Detention Center on Tuesday after he requested to stay with his mother.

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