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Police pursuit ends in death

A high speed chase between a Sunnyside police officer and a man suspected of a hit and run accident outside the Dark Horse Inn, which is located in the 1400 block of Yakima Valley Highway, ended in the suspect's death Sunday night.

According to Sunnyside Police Department Deputy Chief Phil Schenck, police were called to the Dark Horse just before 11 p.m. there was a report of a man in a green Ford Taurus attempting to ram a taco truck parked at the location. The suspect was identified as 45-year-old Adam Garza of Grandview.

Garza had been contacted by Sunnyside police Saturday night at the same location after he started an argument with the taco truck owner. He was arguing with the taco vendor about how his girlfriend, who is employed by the vendor, was being treated by her employer.

"At that point (Saturday night) he was directed not to return to the Dark Horse," said Schenck.

Witnesses Sunday night reported that the man was again arguing with the taco vendor prior to leaving the scene, said Schenck.

While leaving the Dark Horse parking lot, Garza struck another vehicle in the parking lot.

Garza fled eastbound on Yakima Valley Highway and was pursued by a Sunnyside police officer, according to Schenck.

The unidentified officer attempted to stop Garza, but the suspect fled at a high rate of speed, passing cars on the right hand side of the road.

After the officer activated his lights and sirens, the driver failed to stop and accelerated to approximately 90 miles per hour.

"The vehicle failed to stop at the red lights at Yakima Valley Highway and Lincoln Avenue," said Schenck, who added that two Sunnyside police officers were involved in the pursuit. Other officers from Mabton, the Yakima County Sheriff's Department and the Washington State Patrol were standing by to assist.

Garza continued to pass vehicles on the right-hand side of the road, including a vehicle stopped at Yakima Valley Highway and Waneta Road. The vehicle continued eastbound toward Grandview on Yakima Valley Highway and accelerated his speed to 110 to 120 miles per hour.

According to Schenck, Garza entered I-82 at exit 73 in Grandview and headed westbound on the freeway. Exiting the freeway at exit 69 in Sunnyside, Garza failed to stop at the stop sign and lost control of the vehicle.

According to Washington State Patrol Trooper Tom Mortensen, who is investigating the crash, the vehicle left the roadway on the west side of Highway 241 and became airborne. Garza was ejected from the vehicle, which rolled several times and landed in a field on the northwest side of I-82.

The officers in the pursuit were uninjured.

"There is no indication to us that this officer did anything wrong," said Schenck.

According to Yakima County Coroner Maurice Rice, he has drawn Garza's blood, which will be checked for intoxicants.

Upon initial examination, Rice added, Garza appeared to have died from a broken neck and possible internal injuries from being tossed from the vehicle.

Garza was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. No one else was in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

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