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Ontario man rescued from badger hole after fleeing police

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Posted at 3:03 PM, Nov 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-04 17:03:19-04

Rescue crews had to extract an Ontario man trapped in a large badger hole, after he was reportedly trying to elude police.

About 7:30 a.m. Thursday, an Oregon State Police trooper on patrol in Ontario located someone in a stolen vehicle, a 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe, and attempted a traffic stop in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box restaurant on 4th Street.

The driver jumped a curb and sped away, as police gave chase.

The pursuit was soon terminated for safety reasons, according to Oregon State Police spokesman Captain Bill Fugate.

“During the pursuit, two males and a dog could be seen occupying the vehicle. Information (later) led police to BLM land near Vale, where a search was conducted by ground and air,” he said.

Several hours later, officers found one suspect on foot on the BLM land. He was identified as Jerry Boatman, 35, of Ontario. Police arrested him for escape and a parole violation.

“The search continued and, a couple hours later, an aircraft located the vehicle in a ravine,” Fugate said.

Officers followed tracks leading from the vehicle for over a mile, eventually spotting the dog. “As law enforcement approached the dog, it fled into a large badger hole and would not come out. After getting the dog out, they could hear a male screaming for help from within the hole,” Fugate explained.

Police found Gregory Morrow, 22, of Ontario, stuck about eight feet underground. He was feet-first in the hole, could not move, and was losing the feelings in his arm.

Police began digging to remove him from Morrow hole. After about ninety minutes, Morrow was extracted from the hole and taken into custody. Officers identified him as the driver of the stolen vehicle.

He was taken to Saint Alphonsus Hospital in Ontario and treated for minor injuries.

He was later arrested for a parole violation warrant.

Further charges are pending.

"Most likely, Morrow would have died from exposure -- as he would not have been able to free himself,” said Fugate.

The Oregon State Police was assisted by the Ontario Police Department, Malheur County Sheriff's Office and Vale Fire and Rescue.