SKAGIT COUNTY, Wash. -- Shortly after noon on Christmas day, a quiet country road suddenly had a lot of company. A fire truck and state troopers moved in and closed the street down after a Ford police SUV went through a fence.

Sgt. James Arnold of the Washington State Patrol said it happened on Ershig Road in Skagit County.

A short pursuit ended up in a collision with a tree, said Sgt. Arnold.

Investigators said behind the wheel of the patrol vehicle was a 30-year-old male suspect who had been taken into custody earlier for allegedly acting erratically at a home near Bow, Washington.

The person was placed into the vehicle unhandcuffed, and the deputy went to go contact the family and let them know what was going on and in doing so turned around and saw the car driving away, explained Sgt. Arnold.

The vehicle's partition was closed but not latched, according to Trooper Keith Leary. Investigators said it appeared that was how the man slipped from the back seat into the driver's seat.

A few minutes later and about five miles away, a WSP trooper spotted the wanted man, and a pursuit began. The suspect lost control and crashed. The result was a brand new police SUV smashed, no one seriously hurt, and the suspect back in custody.

The suspect was sent to the hospital for a mental health evaluation. Trooper Leary said they also plan to investigate whether the suspect was impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of the collision.

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