Parked car saves mother and son during police chase
A 19-year-old Great Falls teen lead Missoula police on a high-speed chase Saturday night and nearly ran over a mother and her son who were merely feet away.
The suspect is now in custody. Missoula Police tell us it all started when they received an anonymous phone call reporting that the driver of a Pontiac Firebird was driving on a suspended license.
Around 9:30 p.m. police spotted the suspect vehicle heading south across the Russell Street Bridge.
After pulling the driver over on the 200 block of North Russell, they tell us he accelerated past police officers down Wyoming Street.
The suspect reportedly swiped two trees and hit a parked car before police caught up with him and made the arrest.
As it turns out, that parked car might have been a life saver.
It's every mother's worst nightmare -- an out of control vehicle zooming towards her child. And that’s exactly what happened to Missoula mom Liz Filler.
“We heard sirens and really didn't think anything of it until we heard squealing breaks,” said Filler.
She tells NBC Montana she had just finished an evening walk with her 3-year-old son Victor when the suspect vehicle flew around the corner.
“I looked over and watched as a car came tearing around the corner and ran over one tree and up the other,” she said.
Liz only had seconds to react as the car headed her and Victor's way.
“I just wanted to get out of there,” said Filler. “I grabbed Vic in his stroller and came running up the steps hitting the door as hard as I could so my husband could get us in.”
We asked her what her first thought was as she saw the vehicle barreling towards her son, who was still buckled into his stroller.
“I didn't think,” she replied. “I just grabbed him because I knew we didn't want to be in there.”
Filler tells us she wasn't sure what the situation was or if she or Victor were still in danger.
“Who knew what was going on,” she said. “We just wanted to get out of the way and into our house where it’s safe.”
Liz and Nick Filler tell NBC Montana they're just thankful the suspect ran into their car and not their son.
“You could see that it was going to head right towards where Vic was and I didn't realize that until after the fact,” said Filler. “It's really sobering and very scary to think that we were that close.”
She tells us police were on-scene in seconds and police tell us they arrested the 19-year-old driver that could have changed this family's life.
“We're just lucky the car was there because we would have rather lost the car then our family,” said Filler.
As for the suspect, he's not so lucky. He faces three felony counts of criminal endangerment and six misdemeanors – including: drug paraphernalia, eluding a peace officer, no insurance, seat belt, no license plate and driving while suspended.
Police tell us the suspect’s 17-year-old passenger was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.
They say it’s unknown if drugs or alcohol played a role in the pursuit; the suspect is expected in court later this week.