Safe full of meth thrown out of car during high-speed chase
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BLACKFOOT — Idaho State Police say a man and woman threw a safe full of methamphetamine out of a car as they tried to escape from law enforcement.
It all began Monday afternoon when a trooper spotted 49-year-old Eric Byers, of Montana, trying to avoid eye contact on Interstate 15, according to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by EastIdahoNews.com. Beyers drove off the interstate and into Blackfoot and eventually did not use a turn signal, prompting a traffic stop.
The trooper walked up to the car in a parking lot to talk with Beyers and spotted 51-year-old Nicole Baker, of Blackfoot, curled up in the front seat. The trooper reports Baker opening her eyes then closing them to act like she was sleeping. The woman was not the only thing the trooper noticed. According to court documents, the trooper smelt a strange odor in the car and asked if the pair had recently smoked marijuana.
“Baker became quickly agitated and stated that she had burned sage and that was it,” the trooper writes in the probable cause. “I told Byers to roll up the windows and shut the car off and that I was going to run my narcotics K9 around the car.”
The trooper got the dog which reportedly indicated the smell of drugs. When Byers learned the trooper would be going through the car with a Bingham County Sheriff’s deputy who just arrived, he is alleged to have pushed on the accelerator and speed up to around 50 mph through the parking lot.
Law enforcement gave chase and Byers eventually turned onto Idaho Highway 39 at speeds around 75 mph in a 45 mph zone. As the car went around a corner, the trooper saw a large object fly out the window with blue packaging all over the road.
As Byers slowed down, the trooper hit his car into Byers’ using a PIT maneuver (pursuit intervention technique), which stopped the vehicle. As the trooper commanded Byers to get out, he saw Baker now in the back seat and both were placed into custody.
Investigators then searched the car and reported a meth pipe in the driver’s side door. There was also blue wrapping paper in the backseat and a pink purse in the trunk with meth and another meth pipe, according to court documents.
Detectives in the area searched where the trooper saw something fly out the window. It’s reported they found a large Sentry Safe weighing around 23 pounds on the passenger side of the road. Police suspect Baker threw the safe out of the car during the chase.
Beyers gave police a key to the safe which troopers opened. Inside a bag in the safe, troopers uncovered what they called a large amount of suspected meth in separate bags. When investigators weighed the meth, it totaled over 927.63 grams or over two pounds of meth.
Both Byers and Baker were booked into the Bingham County Jail. The pair are charged with felony trafficking methamphetamine, felony eluding police and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Felony drug trafficking holds a minimum 10-year sentence and up to life if convicted.
Although Byers and Baker are charged with crimes it does not necessarily mean they committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
A preliminary hearing for Byers and Baker is scheduled for April 8.