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Woman crashes through TRAX arms during chase, police say

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MIDVALE — A woman was arrested early Tuesday after police say she led them on a nearly half-hour chase in a stolen car, nearly hitting an officer and crashing through one set of TRAX crossing arms in the process.

The wild incident began about 5 a.m. as a police officer was responding to a call in Taylorsville. While on his way, a Nissan Sentra went into oncoming traffic without warning near 4700 South and 2200 West, forcing the officer to take evasive action to narrowly avoid being hit, said Unified Police Lt. Brian Lohrke.

Investigators believe the driver intended to purposely hit the officer, possibly because she saw the police car and panicked, according to Lohrke.

The officer made a U-turn and initiated a pursuit with the car, which police discovered had been stolen in Murray earlier that night, he said.

The chase went from Taylorsville to California Avenue in Salt Lake City, he said. During that time, police pursued the vehicle through an industrial area where the driver almost hit a second Unified police officer, according to a Salt Lake County Jail report.

She then drove onto state Route 201 and southbound I-15, Lohrke said. Utah Highway Patrol troopers were able to successfully use tire spikes on the fleeing vehicle near 5300 South, but the car kept going, he said.

The fleeing car exited I-15 at 7200 South and went through "two gas station parking lots where there were civilians getting gas," the report states.

The car continued on and approached a TRAX crossing. The crossing arms were down while a train was stopped at a nearby platform. The driver smashed through the crossing arms, Lohrke said, and then made several U-turns before crashing near 7200 South and 180 West. By that time, the vehicle's tires were gone and the car was failing.

A woman got out of the car and attempted to carjack another vehicle, Lohrke said. She actually got another car to stop, possibly by jumping in front of it. But before she could get into that car, pursuing officers were able to tackle her.

Rachel Powell, 23, was arrested for investigation of a number of charges and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail in connection with the chase.

Court records list several addresses for her in recent cases, including Cedar Fort. A shoplifting charge filed against her in Salt Lake City Justice Court in June listed her as homeless.

Since September, Powell has been charged several times with shoplifting and misdemeanor drug-related charges. At the time of her arrest, Powell had warrants for her arrest in two of those cases for failing to show up to court.


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