City settles $3 million lawsuit for $25,000

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The City of Columbia Falls has settled a $3 million lawsuit brought by a teenager who was injured in a high speed chase for $25,000.

On June 14, 2015, Joshua Sauls, who was 16 at the time, was injured in a truck accident that killed driver Pierce Norman Beach, 15, after Beach fled from Columbia Falls Police officer Mike Johnson.

Johnson tried to pull over the pickup truck on U.S. Highway 2 over after it had a flickering taillight and was driving erratically. Beach went down South Nucleus Avenue and then down 13th Street East back onto the highway with Johnson in pursuit. They then went down Highway 2 through the Bad Rock Canyon, reaching speeds of 90 mph. The truck made a hard left-hand turn onto the frontage road along the South Fork of the Flathead River and went down the hill. At the bottom of the hill it failed to make the sharp left turn and struck tree.

Beach was pronounced dead at the scene. Another 18-year-old passenger, in addition to Sauls, was also in the truck at the time of the crash. Dave Perry, who was police chief at the time, said neither alcohol or drugs was involved in the crash, but police did later learn that the truck may have been stolen.

The settlement was reached in late September. According to terms of the settlement, the city does not admit any liability in the case.

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