"Because It Was There" 

By now, the excuse "video games made me do it" has been so thoroughly deflated, it's hardly even worth making fun of. However, examples of life imitating art--and by "art," we mean Grand Theft Auto--continue to pile up like so much freeway detritus--and by "detritus," we mean "other people's cars." Take the case of Jesse Vasquez, a 26-year-old from Moses Lake. Last Thursday, he led police on a 52-mile car chase in a Spokane Valley Fire Department medic vehicle that he said he stole, according to an officer's account in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, "because it was there."

Bear in mind that when Vasquez reportedly said "it was there," he really meant parked, unlocked and running in front of an old folks' home. A pair of EMTs were treating an elderly woman inside, and they had left the county-owned 1999 Suburban purring outside so that the emergency flashers wouldn't drain the battery. But when the suspect found this tantalizing gift, rather than doing what any normal person would do--check the ashtray for coins and change all the preset radio stations to Christian rock--he cast off the shackles of bourgeois morality and did what said normal person would only dream. He went for a joyride.

Over the course of the next 52 miles, Vasquez made some questionable decisions. Or depending on your perspective, he may have set a new county "points" record. According to the story, he passed three Washington State troopers in a no-passing zone (easily 5,000 points), prompting the patrolmen to call dispatchers, who confirmed that the Suburban was stolen. Then he crashed into a Whitman County sheriff's deputy's cruiser while the deputy was laying down a spike strip (10,000). And finally, after crossing over the border into Idaho (another 10,000) with a dozen officers in hot pursuit (1,000 per officer), Vasquez took a detour into a muddy field, where his trusty steed finally found an assignment it couldn't handle and he was apprehended. How the Idaho and Washington legal systems will translate Vasquez's 37,000 points into jail-time remains to be seen, but in the meantime, he faces a slew of felony charges in both states.

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