Fruitvale crash

Traffic was shut down at Fruitvale Boulevard and 40th Avenue on Wednesday after a four-vehicle crash.

Yakima County sheriff’s deputies broke off their pursuit of a fleeing fugitive twice before a four-vehicle crash that closed a major Yakima intersection for several hours Wednesday, a court document reveals.

Deputies had terminated their pursuit and were watching as the pickup driven by John Paul Thomas Ryan ran a red light at North 40th Avenue and Fruitvale Boulevard at speeds reaching 60 mph, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

Ryan was supposed to have appeared in Yakima County Superior Court on Friday, but did not make the hearing due to illness, court staff said. Judge David Elofson set Ryan’s bail at $100,000 and rescheduled the hearing for Monday.

The 9-mile chase began on Summitview Road near Weikel Road around 6:30 a.m. when a sheriff’s deputy spotted a green pickup he believed was stolen because of a social media post and a rear license plate that was not assigned to that vehicle.

A subsequent investigation showed the truck was reported stolen in Yakima.

When the deputy tried to stop the truck, it sped east on Summitview, reaching 80 mph near 96th Avenue, the affidavit said. The driver, later identified as Ryan, passed vehicles on the left across double yellow lines, prompting deputies to break off the chase for safety reasons.

Deputies followed from a distance with their lights and sirens turned off as Ryan ran a red light at Summitview and 72nd avenues and then turned north on 66th Avenue, the affidavit said. At that point, deputies resumed the chase as Ryan was heading back into unincorporated Yakima County.

While heading down Cowiche Canyon Road, Ryan “brake-checked” his pursuers, at which point deputies positively identified Ryan as the driver and broke off the chase a second time.

Ryan continued to drive through stop signs on West Powerhouse Road before getting on U.S. Highway 12 and heading to the North 40th Avenue exit, where he ran the stoplight and was hit by a southbound car at the same time he collided with a northbound minivan.

The car that hit Ryan then hit another pickup on North 40th Avenue.

A woman in the truck Ryan was driving, Rebecca Sappington, was taken to Astria Regional Medical Center with a broken pelvis and facial fractures, the affidavit said. She was transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where hospital staff did not report any record of her.

The intersection remained closed until 1:53 p.m. while the accident was investigated and debris and vehicles were cleared.

Ryan was booked into the Yakima County jail on an outstanding state Department of Corrections warrant, as well as suspicion of eluding, possessing a stolen motor vehicle, vehicular assault and driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Reach Donald W. Meyers at or on Twitter: donaldwmeyers.


How much crime happens in your town?

We used the latest crime rate data from the FBI to illustrate how much crime happens in every part of the Yakima Valley.

First, select a Yakima County law enforcement agency from the left drop down menu. Then select a type of crime from the right menu to see how your town compares.

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Crime rate per 100,000 people

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Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports

Crime rates are reported as the number of incidents known of by law enforcement per 100,000 people living in the jurisdiction.
1The FBI says it believes the Yakima County Sheriff's Office under reported the number of incidents in 2018
2Wapato's data for 2018 is not reliable.