Deputies used a body bag to help carry the unresponsive suspect out of the swamp near Orting. They also had to use a ladder and some pallets to construct a rescue bridge over a creek and out of the swamp. Photo courtesy Pierce County Sheriff’s Department

Deputies used a body bag to help carry the unresponsive suspect out of the swamp near Orting. They also had to use a ladder and some pallets to construct a rescue bridge over a creek and out of the swamp. Photo courtesy Pierce County Sheriff’s Department

Deputies arrest Bonney Lake, Sumner package thief after K9 chase

Sumner resident Donald James Morgan, 32, has been charged with felony eluding, unlawful possession of a firearm, hit and run, resisting arrest, identity theft, mail theft, and possession of stolen property.

Pierce County deputies had an exciting night earlier this month when they successfully apprehended Sumner resident Donald James Morgan, 32, who is suspected of stealing packages off of Bonney Lake and Sumner porches.

According to court documents, deputies were on patrol on Rhodes Lake Drive in the Bonney Lake Foothills area on Dec. 20 when they noticed a truck that was traveling 50 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone and fishtailing through the curves.

Deputies flipped on their lights, but the truck, a 2012 silver Ford F150, failed to stop and continued driving recklessly.

According to a Pierce County Sheriff’s Department Facebook post recounting the chase, Morgan accelerated as he passed over Puyallup River into the McMillin area, turning northbound onto state Route 162. By now, deputies had caught up to the truck to read the license plate, confirming the truck was suspected to be involved in various package thefts.

After a failed attempt to stop Morgan using Stop Sticks, it appeared as if Morgan attempted to collide with deputies before eventually ending up on the Orting-Kapowsin Highway, heading into Orting.

Passing the fire station, officers used a PIT maneuver (forcing the truck to turn sideways abruptly by hitting the tail end),to stop and surround the truck to prevent Morgan from driving off.

Morgan then exited the truck and ran down 150th Avenue East, with two deputies in pursuit on foot. One deputy tased Morgan with no effect before he ran across Orting-Kapowsin Highway, jumped over a guardrail, and disappeared down a steep embankment.

Deputies requested a K9 unit and started to contain the neighborhood, while others observed a handgun on the truck’s driver’s seat, a bag of what appeared to be burglary tools on the passenger seat, and meth on the floor.

The K9 unit, Zepp, then arrived and started pursuing Morgan though a highly swampy area.

“K9 Zepp and the deputies crawled under limbs, over downed logs, and over bushes. In many spots the mud and water was up to the deputies’ gun belts and K9 Zepp had to swim,” the Facebook post reads, adding at multiple points, Zepp pulled so hard on his leash, his deputy was pulled face-first into the swamp.

The search lasted about 40 minutes, ending when Zepp found Morgan face down and unresponsive in the mud and two feet of water.

Morgan was pulled from the swamp after being handcuffed and treated for hypothermia before transported to a nearby hospital. The next morning, he was booked for felony eluding, unlawful possession of a firearm, hit and run, resisting arrest, identity theft, mail theft, and possession of stolen property.

Bail was set for $75,000; it was posted on Christmas Eve. The next pre-trial date is set for today, January 3.

MAIL THEFTS

Court documents also recounted how on Dec. 13, security cameras caught Morgan stealing packages from a private resident’s porch. Although wearing a yellow bandanna over his face, the camera caught the silver truck’s license plate.

Deputies secured a search warrant for the truck after the chase and found the bandanna identified on the security footage, as well as 17 pierces of mail from ten separate addresses, two packages behind the passenger’s seat, and several checks not made out to Morgan or his suspected partner, Chelsie McDaniel.


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