UPDATE: Investigators detail crimes leading to chase, crash in downtown Hope
The day after law enforcement flocked to the small community of Hope, authorities shed more light on what caused the commotion, as well as the identity of the man they arrested during it.
Wanderson Lopes, age 43, of Anchorage, was arrested in the theft and resulting chase and crash involving that stolen vehicle.
According to a report from the Kenai Police Department, the incident began at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, when a vehicle was stolen from the parking lot of The Home Depot in Kenai, a 1992 Nissan pickup truck.
Hours later at 4:20 p.m., the truck was spotted on the Seward Highway by an Alaska State Trooper, heading north. KPD stated that Lopes was behind the wheel.
When the trooper activated his lights, that's when authorities say he took off, hitting speeds of over 100 miles per hour on the stretch of highway.
During the chase, the stolen Nissan veered into the Hope turnoff, and crashed at mile 16 of the Hope Highway. Lopes was then arrested, and taken to Wildwood Pre-Trial. He faces charges of vehicle theft and failure to stop for a peace officer.
The Hope Highway begins at mile 56 of the Seward Highway and winds its way to the usually quiet community of Hope, population 192.
It's 17-miles long, and dead-ends at a campground. Apparently, a man fleeing from troopers Tuesday afternoon didn't know that when he turned onto the Hope Highway to try to make his getaway.
At about 4:45 p.m., residents in the Hope/Sunrise area started hearing police sirens. At first, some thought they might be related to the police search for a man in Turnagain Pass, who is accused of crashing two vehicles. But, they soon discovered that this was a completely different police chase, and it was heading right for their town.
"Well, I was just sitting down to eat dinner outside at a picnic table because it was hot, and I heard sirens" said Robbie Davidson, a Hope resident whose family owns a small gas station near the end of the Hope Highway.
The Davidson family's gas station has a loop driveway that connects to the Hope Highway. The police chase took a left-turn into it.
"It (sirens) got louder and louder" said Davidson, " and then the guy burns up into our driveway and around through the loop with two cop cars chasing him, and then turned and went back toward the campground, and then he rolled over just before the entrance to the campground."
Hope residents gathered to take pictures of an overturned, dark colored pick-up truck that troopers had been pursuing. Troopers were also seen picking up spike-strips, used to stop fleeing vehicles. The driver of the pick-up was seen being taken into custody.
The chase happened down a road that is the main thoroughfare for Hope, and not only for vehicles. "There could have been anybody walking, bicycles riding. It just happened at a good time for that, I guess, there wasn't that many people moving around" said Davidson.
As of Tuesday night, Alaska State Troopers had not issued any information about the chase down the Hope Highway.