An Anchorage man who took police on a high-speed chase after blowing through the Beaver Creek border crossing last fall will be sentenced next week.
Earlier this year, Jason Echeverri, 29, pleaded guilty to three charges, including dangerous driving.
During a sentencing hearing Wednesday, he apologized to anyone who may have been put in danger on the highway that day.
On Oct. 2, last year, Echeverri tried to cross the border at Beaver Creek, but was turned back by Canadian border guards.
He was arrested by U.S. customs agents on his way back into Alaska for violating a probation order related to a 2010 felony theft conviction.
Echeverri didn’t have the required permission from his parole officer to leave Anchorage.
When the U.S. agents were escorting him back from the bathroom, he escaped custody. Somehow he got the keys to his car back and fled south across the border into the Yukon.
He led the RCMP on a 350-kilometre high-speed chase down the Alaska Highway.
Police were able to blow his front two tires with a spike strip just outside of Destruction Bay, but he continued to drive on the rims for another 10 kilometres.
After he abandoned the car, Echeverri fled into the woods. Police tracked him to an empty cabin several kilometres away.
Echeverri originally faced charges for breaking in to an unlocked cabin but those charges were thrown out by Judge Michael Cozens.
Echeverri told the court that he didn’t have a plan when he left his mother’s house in Anchorage that night, and that things had been going good for him in the months before he landed back in jail.
He was on his way to completing his GED, had just opened his first bank account, and was working on reuniting with his son.
“I wanted to make the final step and break out on my own,” he said.
Since being in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, Echeverri pointed out that he’s taken steps to better himself, seeking counseling for drug addiction, taking courses through Yukon College and reading every self-help book he could find.
But his stay at the Whitehorse jail hasn’t been completely without incident, said Blaine Demchuk, the prison’s manager of correctional services, who testified Wednesday.
In addition to being caught twice with contraband – two batteries and a small motor that is commonly used for jailhouse tattoo guns – Echeverri was also sent to a segregation unit for more than a month this winter for his part in a non-violent prisoner protest over coffee rations.
The Crown is seeking a sentence of three and a half years, while Echeverri’s lawyer argued that 12 months in jail would be more than enough time.
“It’s a long road and it doesn’t end with what I do here,” said Cozens. “Where you are at the end of it is up to you.”
He’s scheduled to sentence Echeverri next Friday.
In addition to the Canadian charges, Echeverri also faces a felony charge for escape and two misdemeanor assault charges in the U.S. related to his run on the border.
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