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Woman accused of stealing, crashing CSP patrol car in Mesa County

MESA COUNTY, Colo. — A woman is accused of stealing a Colorado State Patrol vehicle before leading officers on a chase and crashing the car in Mesa County.

CSP said the incident began shortly before 3:45 p.m. Friday, when troopers responded to a possible crash on westbound Interstate 70 east of the Beaver Tail Tunnel. CSP said the vehicle involved was stolen out of Montezuma County.

As a trooper arrived at the crash scene, two of the vehicle’s occupants — a man and a woman — ran away. The female driver ran across the interstate and jumped into the Colorado River in an attempt to avoid the trooper. She was caught shortly after and taken into custody.

While the woman was in custody, she stole a CSP patrol car. CSP did not say how she managed to steal the vehicle.

The woman then led officers on a pursuit before she crashed the car on I-70 near mile marker 59, about 10 miles away from the original crash site.

She was taken into custody and transported to the Mesa County Jail. She was identified as Venessa Jaramillo, 29. She was also wanted on two misdemeanor warrants and one felony warrant out of Lake County.

The male passenger was identified as Nickolas Mascarenas, 36. He was arrested about 9 p.m. Friday by a Palisade police officer while walking in the town. He has felony warrants out of Eagle and Lake counties.

A trooper responding to the incident was involved in a crash with a motorcycle on I-70 near mile marker 42. CSP said the trooper had his emergency lights and siren activated at the time. The motorcyclist had minor injuries and was taken to a hospital. The trooper went to the hospital as a precaution. The crash is under investigation by the Grand Junction Police Department and CSP.

“Even though aspects of this incident are still under investigation, this serves to highlight the epidemic of auto theft in Colorado, and the importance of motorcycle operators to wear a complete set of protective gear,” said CSP Chief Matthew Packard in a press release.

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