At around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a Missoula Police Officer observed a truck partially run a stop sign at the intersection of Catlin and 5th Street. The office followed the truck and observed it drive through another stop sign without stopping. According to Police Public Information Officer Travis Welsh, the officer initiated a traffic stop on the truck.

“Rather than pull over to the side, the vehicle accelerated away and the officer began to pursue,” Welsh said. “The vehicle drove around the area of 3rd and 4th Street West and Russell Street. It eventually crashed into a house in the 1400 block of South 7th Street. The driver fled on foot.”

The pursuit continued for some time, reaching speeds of approximately 45 to 60 miles per hour. At one point, the truck struck a parked car. It then drove through a hedge, across a yard, and crashed into a residence.

In doing so, the suspect severed the natural-gas line to the residence, which caused a loud hissing sound. Officers noted the strong odor of natural gas permeating the air. They established a perimeter and instructed nearby residents to evacuate their homes.

“There were two people inside the house that had to be evacuated,” Welsh said. “The fire department and Northwestern Energy responded to the scene while officers began looking for the driver. He was subsequently located near the confluence of Addison and Hart Street. He was determined to be the driver and placed under arrest.”

The driver was identified as 38-year-old Justin Marceau. One officer took one of Marceau’s shoes back to the crash site. They compared the shoe’s sole with the tracks left by the fleeing suspect and they were a direct match.

Marceau adamantly denied being the driver of the truck that evening. He did, however, admit to consuming several alcoholic beverages. He informed the officer that this was going to be his fourth DUI. He then appeared to catch himself and clarified that it would be his fourth DUI if he had been the one driving.

Marceau refused to provide a preliminary breath sample and a blood sample. However, an officer obtained a warrant for a blood draw and Marceau was then transported to St. Patrick Hospital. During the drive, Marceau was argumentative and urged the officer to “get a swat team” and “bring the army,” indicating that officers would not get a blood sample without using force. However, after a brief discussion at the hospital, Marceau cooperated with the blood draw.

Marceau’s driving record shows four prior DUI convictions. The officer’s report states that the estimated value of the damage to the residence, gas line, and surrounding property is approximately $2000.00. It states that the damage to the parked car is approximately $300.00.

Marceau was charged with two counts of felony criminal endangerment, felony DUI, and felony criminal mischief. He was also charged with three misdemeanor offenses, for a total of seven separate charges.

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