Just before midnight 12/27/18; a Yuba County Deputy on patrol on Timbuctoo Place in Smartsville attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a Jeep Cherokee with obstructed plates, that matched the description of a vehicle suspected of involvement in recent mail thefts from the Yuba County foothills. The driver failed to yield and a pursuit ensued south-east on Timbuctoo Place at approximately 50 mph, then onto Hwy 20 eastbound toward Nevada County at speeds up to 80 mph. The suspect vehicle then made a U-turn and proceeded west bound Hwy 20, turning south onto Hammonton-Smartsville Rd toward Smartsville, where it continued onto southbound Chuck Yeager Rd before turning east onto Daughtery Rd then south onto Mosswood Ln, where it crashed near the intersection of Boulder Way and Mosswood Ln, Smartsville.
The single vehicle accident caused the suspect vehicle to flip, leaving a male driver and one female passenger trapped as smoke began to come from the overturned Cherokee. The pursuing Deputy was able to pull both subjects from the vehicle prior to it catching fire. The driver, identified as 29-year-old Damien Cooper appeared unconscious and the female passenger, identified as 25-year-old Kerstin Toutjian, was conscious but complained of knee and head pain.
Driver Cooper was transported by air to a Sacramento area hospital where he did not appear to have any injuries but was being evaluated; and Passenger Toutjian was transported by ambulance to a local hospital for evaluation. The pursuit was over a distance of six miles and lasted approximately 8 minutes.
The suspect vehicle was searched at the scene of the accident and contained over 50 pieces of suspected stolen mail from various addresses in Loma Rica, Browns Valley, and Smartsville. A bicycle also located in the suspect vehicle was reported stolen from Oakland, Ca. Suspect Damien Cooper, a parolee, was wanted for violating his parole.
The mail thefts remain under active investigation and have been referred to the US Postal Inspectors. Cooper is expected to be booked into the Yuba County Jail upon his release from the hospital, with initial charges of violation of parole, felony evading, and possession of stolen property.
Damien Cooper was life flighted from the accident in Smartsville, following the pursuit, to a Sacramento area hospital. He was discharged from the hospital without the knowledge of the Yuba County Sheriff or parole’s; and fled. He remains wanted at this time.