Fort Hall woman facing multiple charges following high-speed chase
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FORT HALL — After first pulling over, a local woman allegedly attempted to flee police, leading them on a chase from Chubbuck to Fort Hall.
Charly Teresa Pongah faces a felony charge for attempting to flee officers, according to charge documents. The 27-year-old has also been charged with misdemeanors for possession of drug paraphernalia and driving without privileges, as well as infractions for displaying a fictitious license plate and failure to provide proof of insurance.
The incident began at around 12:30 a.m. Monday when a Bannock County Sheriff’s Office deputy was patrolling Interstate 86 in Chubbuck, near Walmart. The deputy saw a vehicle driving without its headlights activated, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
The deputy saw the lack of headlights as a potential sign of driving under the influence and initiated a traffic stop. The vehicle pulled into a gas station, then turned around facing the entrance before slowing to a stop.
In speaking with the driver, the deputy noted no signs of impairment but asked for vehicle documents and identification. The driver, who identified herself as Pongah, informed the deputy that she was unable to open the vehicle’s glove compartment and thus was unable to provide insurance or registration information.
While the deputy provided dispatch with the names of the driver and three passengers, the right rear door of the vehicle opened. A male passenger exited the vehicle with his hands raised. The vehicle then accelerated, leaving the gas station and heading northbound down Central Way.
An officer with the Chubbuck Police Department who had followed the deputy into the gas station to assist took the male into custody while the deputy pursued the vehicle.
Deputy reports show Pongah was observed driving approximately 60 mph, running red lights and stop signs, and heading through Chubbuck toward Fort Hall. Pongah was observed driving approximately 75 mph as she ran a stop sign at Siphon Road.
Additional deputies and Chubbuck police officers joined the pursuit as it continued past Reservation Road and onto Cutshalts Road at 80 mph. Speeds fluctuated between 50 and 85 mph as the pursuit neared Cemetery Road.
During the chase, deputies were informed that the identity provided by one of the passengers was determined to be falsified.
That passenger, according to the deputy, was moving erratically inside the vehicle. The deputy determined this activity to be consistent with someone either throwing away evidence or reaching for a weapon.
Pongah maintained speeds around 40 mph on dirt roads as the pursuit neared the Fort Hall Riverbottoms. Then the vehicle slowed and pulled into an alfalfa field as the passengers began opening their doors. The deputy sped around the vehicle and boxed it in before the passengers could exit and clear the way for Pongah to continue the chase.
Deputies closed in on the vehicle from both the front and rear as Pongah attempted to flee on foot. Noticing something black in her hand and fearing it to be a weapon, the deputy deployed his taser, striking Pongah in the right shoulder and behind the right ear. As she fell to the ground, the item Pongah was carrying — a cell phone — fell from her hand onto the ground.
She was detained, as were her passengers.
During a pat-down, officers allegedly found Pongah in possession of a “tooter” straw — used to ingest drugs — and a lighter.
Because the two passengers caught at the conclusion of the chase were determined to be tribal members, they and the vehicle were left to be investigated by Fort Hall Police.
Fort Hall PD allegedly found a baggie of methamphetamine submerged in a drink in the backseat of the vehicle.
After she was medically cleared by an EMT at the scene and staff at the Portneuf Medical Center, Pongah agreed to speak with the deputy, allegedly admitting to smoking both methamphetamine and fentanyl earlier that night.
She also told officers that the baggie of meth found in the backseat belonged to the passenger in the front seat who had provided false identification. That information was passed along to Fort Hall police. Pongah was arrested and transported to Bannock County Jail.
If she is found guilty of attempting to flee, Pongah could face up to five years in prison and fines up to $50,000.
She is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 7.