Oregon State Police (OSP) Trooper John Jeffries remained hospitalized this week following a pursuit and crash along Highway 30 four miles north of St. Helens.

Crash Scene 1

The damaged OSP Patrol vehicle rests along Highway 30 as the law enforcement investigation unfolded.

Crash Scene 2

Police conduct the investigation at the site of the cash. The damaged vehicle in the center of this photo is believed to be the suspect's car.

Washington Law enforcement officers responded to a reported domestic assault and robbery in Cowlitz County Nov. 11. The suspect, who was later identified as 53-year-old John Sanford Thralls of Longview, had fled the scene of the incident prior to the arrival of the officers, according to a release from authorities.

Columbia County connection

Thralls’ vehicle was later spotted in the city of Rainier by Rainier Police Department (RPD) Officers. RPD followed the southbound vehicle on Highway 30 for a short time before being joined by an Oregon State Police (OSP) vehicle. While following the suspect vehicle, the officers witnessed it illegally pass another vehicle, prompting OSP troopers to activate their lights in an attempt to stop Thralls. The suspect failed to yield to law enforcement officers and began driving recklessly. The pursuit was terminated a short time later due to public safety concerns.

Law enforcement vehicles followed Thralls’ vehicle from a safe distance and OSP troopers successfully deployed spikes in an effort to disable the vehicle, causing at least one tire to deflate. Columbia County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies and St. Helens Police officers set up additional spike strips ahead of the suspect vehicle in an attempt to safely stop the car. Thralls resumed driving recklessly, nearly colliding with other vehicles, before conducting a U-turn and driving northbound on Highway 30. Shortly thereafter, Thralls drove towards an OSP patrol vehicle, which was forced to leave the roadway to avoid colliding with Thralls.

Two troopers in a single OSP vehicle were parked across from Dyno Nobel, preparing to deploy additional spike strips to stop Thralls’ vehicle. The suspect then drove towards the parked patrol vehicle at a high rate of speed. One trooper was able to safely move away from the OSP vehicle just before Thralls’ vehicle collided with it. The second officer, Trooper Jeffries, was unable to sufficiently distance himself from the patrol vehicle and was critically injured during the collision.

After initially refusing to comply with commands from law enforcement officers to exit the vehicle, Thralls was promptly taken into custody without further incident. He was transported to Emanuel Hospital to be treated for injuries he sustained during the crash.

Law enforcement officers on the scene provided emergency medical aid to Trooper Jeffries until Columbia River Fire & Rescue (CRFR) arrived to take charge of caring for the injured trooper. Trooper Jeffries was transported to Emanuel Hospital in critical condition.

Thralls was transported to the Columbia County Jail on Nov. 17, and booked on three charges of Attempted Murder, one charge of Assault I, and one charge of Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Police Officer(s) in a vehicle.

“I would like to personally thank all of the outside agencies who have stepped up to help with this difficult and complex situation,” Columbia County Sheriff Brian Pixley said.

The participating agencies included the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Hillsboro Police Department, Beaverton Police Department, Tualatin Police Department, Forest Grove Police Department, Tigard Police Department, and the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office.

Trooper’s medical condition

Trooper John Jeffries

The Jeffries family expressed their gratefulness to all that have assisted and supported them and Jeffries and asks for supporters to continue keeping John, the involved officers, John’s medical team, and John’s law enforcement peers in their thoughts and prayers.

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, OSP released a statement saying that during the past six days, Trooper Jeffries has been receiving excellent care from his medical team at Legacy Emmanuel Medical Center in Portland. As a result of the severity of Jeffries injuries, OSP said it will take additional time for his medical team to determine the extent of those injuries and his prognosis for recovery.

“The caring and thoughtful expressions of support community members have shared with Trooper Jeffries’ family, to our Troopers, and our entire agency has been awe-inspiring,” the release stated. “To receive such a large volume of positive words of encouragement and appreciation means so much to our Troopers and all law enforcement members.”

“It takes integrity, courage, and resiliency to be a Trooper and John possesses all three of those traits and so many more,” OSP Superintendent Terri Davie said. “During times of strife and conflict, knowing those we serve to appreciate, respect, and acknowledge our mission and our sacrifices are what provides each of us with the motivation to keep serving during times of anguish and pain.”

The Jeffries family expressed their gratefulness to all that have assisted and supported them and Jeffries and asks for supporters to continue keeping John, the involved officers, John’s medical team, and John’s law enforcement peers in their thoughts and prayers.

“They have appreciated the outpouring of support but continue to request privacy, including privacy for their friends and neighbors,” the OSP release states.

Anyone wishing to send good wishes to Jeffries, is asked to do so via email at ospsocial@osp.oregon.gov or via mail to Oregon State Police, Attention Trooper John Jeffries, 3565 Trelstad Ave SE, Salem, OR. 97317.

History

Jeffries started with the Oregon State Police in March of 2021, after retiring from the FBI after 20 years of service. Jeffries is currently stationed at the OSP St. Helens worksite.

Jeffries and his wife have spent the last 25 years in Portland, where they raised their two sons, according to the OSP.

Jeffries has spent his life in service to the public,” the OSP release reads. “The Oregon State Police asks that you respect the family’s privacy at this time. We also ask for your prayers for Trooper Jeffries, his family, his friends as well as the entire OSP family.”

OSP Superintendent Terri Davi said all troopers recognize the risk they face each time they don their uniforms and report for duty.

“But accepting that risk does not make the fight Trooper Jeffries is currently battling any easier,” Davi said. “As minutes, hours and days go by, our prayers and support are with Trooper Jeffries and his family.”

FBI Statement

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that 25 years ago, Jeffries took an oath of office as FBI Special Agent Jeffries. The following is the FBI release.

“As a young man, he joined the FBI with a mission to serve his country. As a case agent, pilot, firearms instructor, and SWAT team member, John served with honor. He was an agent’s agent – first in the door and always doing the right thing in the right way. He was a respected leader, and his retirement in 2016 was a loss for the FBI.

“John’s call to service didn’t end there, though. This year, John was driven by a sense of duty and purpose to join OSP as a new trooper, completing Oregon’s law enforcement academy alongside men and women who were as much as 30 years his junior.

“There are only two things John loves more than his law enforcement service – his family and his faith. Today and every day, OSP and the FBI will care for John and his family as he has cared for us. We are extremely grateful to the OSP, their leadership, and the OSP family, as they circle around Trooper Jeffries. The FBI joins OSP in asking the public for their love and support for John and his family as he recovers from these serious injuries. Please also give this family the privacy and space it needs to nurture his recovery.”

The investigation is ongoing and is being conducted by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office, the Washington County Major Crimes Team, and the Washington County Crash Analysis Reconstruction Team.

Follow developments of this story at thechiefnews.com and in the Friday print editions of The Chief.

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