BOARDMAN - Police have arrested a man in Tennessee wanted for causing a road-rage crash near Boardman the Sunday after the 2004 Round-Up that left a Portland woman paralyzed.
Butch Dwight Smith was arrested in Marion County, Tenn., by a U.S. Marshals Service task force in conjunction with Operation FALCON (Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally).
Smith is the suspect in a Sept. 19, 2004, hit-and-run crash on Interstate 84 about 13 miles west of Boardman.
According to Oregon State Police reports, a 2002 Saturn sports utility vehicle driven by Sandra Elaine Sturdevant, 36, of Vancouver, Wash., was in the fast lane when another vehicle began tailgating it. Witnesses told police that the Sturdevant tapped her brakes in an apparent effort to signal the following car that it was too close. The other vehicle, a Subaru Legacy, moved along the right side of the Saturn as the driver of the Subaru yelling at the occupants. The Subaru then sped up, pulled in front of the Saturn and braked, witnesses said.
Sturdevant moved her vehicle to the left to avoid the station wagon, but lost control of her SUV, which flipped and rolled several times, coming to rest on its top. It did not collide with the Subaru, which sped away.
Sturdevant and her two passengers, Mary Ann Warner, 40, of Vancouver and Jennifer Middleton, 35, of Portland, were taken by ambulance to Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston. Warner was treated and released with minor injuries, and Sturdevant was released the following day.
Middleton, however, who had been ejected from the vehicle, was taken by LifeFlight to a Portland hospital and is now paralyzed from injuries sustained in the crash.
An investigation by OSP troopers from The Dalles and Arlington offices identified Smith as the suspected driver of the Subaru, and a Morrow County grand jury issued an 11-count indictment.
On Feb. 24, Morrow County issued a warrant for Smith's arrest on charges of second- and third-degree assault, felony failure to perform the duties of a driver involved in an injury crash, and first-degree criminal mischief.
Police learned later that Smith was wanted out of the Nez Perce County Sheriff's Office in Lewiston, Idaho, for child custody interference. Smith was allegedly the non-custodial abductor of his two children, ages 4 and 5. Each child was listed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They were last seen Nov. 17, 2004.
Both Smith's children were found with him when he was arrested last week in Tennessee. They have been reunited with their mother.
Operation FALCON represented the largest fugitive manhunt ever undertaken by any law enforcement agency in the U.S. In Oregon, 12 other agencies participated, including OSP. The operation resulted in the arrest of 106 felony fugitives in Oregon and cleared 110 warrants.
Nationally, a total of 10,340 fugitives were arrested and 13,800 warrants cleared.