Suspect rams police patrol vehicle during pursuit

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COTTONWOOD - The following is a press release from the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office:

On October 18, 2008, 11:45 P.M., a Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputy observed a yellow Datsun 280Z slide out of control while taking a corner at Western Drive and Village Drive in Cottonwood. The deputy attempted to stop the driver for a traffic violation, but he refused and a pursuit was initiated.

The vehicle exited the neighborhood area by running a red light at Western Drive and Highway 260 and entering the neighborhood on the west side of the 260. The driver lost control of the car on Cochise Drive as it spun out and came to face the patrol vehicle. As the deputy exited his vehicle, the driver put his hands in the air. When the deputy told him to turn the car off, the driver took hold of the wheel, backed away, and drove around the patrol vehicle toward Highway 260. The deputy again gave chase as the driver turned right on Highway 260.

As the vehicle neared Prairie Lane on the 260, the driver lost control in a construction zone, taking out several lighted barriers before going over a drop off on the side of the roadway. The driver had nearly collided with two civilian vehicles before leaving the roadway. The driver accelerated his vehicle again and was now driving the wrong way on Highway 260. Within moments, the driver struck a fully marked YCSO vehicle head on as it was traveling with lights and siren on the 260. Both vehicles were immediately disabled.

Deputies were able to remove the suspect, identified as 23-year-old Cottonwood resident William Gundelach, from the vehicle. Gundelach continued to resist arrest even after the collision and verbally threatened deputies as he was placed into custody. The deputy sustained an ankle injury as result the collision. The suspect received non-life threatening upper body and head injuries from the collision. He is currently housed in a Phoenix hospital for treatment.

Gundelach was charged with Assault on a Peace Officer, Fleeing a Peace Officer, Threaten to Cause Injury, and four counts of Endangerment. Gundelach was also charged with Driving on a Suspended License resulting from a prior DUI conviction.

Suspect Gundelach has been released from a Phoenix hospital and is free on a promise to appear pending court proceedings. The media office is attempting to determine if drugs or alcohol were a factor in this incident and is still awaiting receipt of the final report. The information will be made available as soon as known.