College Place police reveal timeline into fatal collision

By on Tuesday, October 31st, 2023 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

COLLEGE PLACE – New details and a timeline from the College Place Police Department shows the sequence of events that occurred leading up to a fatal collision. Yahir Melgoza, 19, of Walla Walla was allegedly fleeing from law enforcement Saturday night when his vehicle left the roadway and struck a power pole on Stateline Road. Melgoza later died at a local hospital due to injuries sustained in the collision.

At 11:22 p.m. Saturday, the College Place Police Department, as well as other law enforcement agencies were advised that officers from the Milton-Freewater Police Department were in pursuit in according to Oregon law with a vehicle driving recklessly at speeds near 100 miles per hour. MFPD lost sight of the vehicle as he headed into Washington.

A deputy from the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office and a trooper from the Washington State Patrol observed the suspect vehicle traveling northbound at State Route 125 towards South Ninth Avenue at more than 100 miles per hour. Neither the deputy nor trooper were in position to make a traffic stop.

A short time later, a WSP trooper located the suspect vehicle parked off Plaza Way and recognized the driver as being Melgoza. At that time, Melgoza was parked and standing outside the vehicle reaching into the truck. According to the College Place Police Department, Melgoza is a suspect in a recent shooting at a Walla Walla convenience store and was currently under home monitoring.

An officer with the College Place Police Department arrived in the area to assist the WSP trooper. As the trooper approached the suspect vehicle, Melgoza entered the vehicle and fled at a high rate of speed. As Melgoza fled, he swerved in the direction of the CPPD officer, forcing the officer to maneuver his patrol vehicle to avoid a collision. The CPPD officer and WSP trooper lost sight of the vehicle.

Approximately 20 minutes later, a WWCSO deputy located the suspect vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed westbound on Stateline Road from Beet Road. As the deputy turned to initiate a traffic stop, the vehicle appeared to leave the roadway and was believed to have been involved in a collision. When the deputy arrived on scene, it was determined Melgoza’s vehicle, which was traveling at a high rate of speed, left the roadway and struck a power pole. Medics arrived on scene and began providing medical aid.

CPPD assisted WWCSO with Melgoza while at the hospital and during transport due to the ongoing investigation into first-degree attempted assault and suspicion of driving under the influence.

While at the hospital, law enforcement was notified that Melgoza passed away because of injuries suffered in the vehicle collision.

The College Place Police Department said none of its officers or any other Washington state law enforcement official was ever engaged in an active vehicle pursuit with Melgoza, nor was he ever placed in physical custody.