Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On March 18, 2023, at approximately 2:25 a.m., a Missoula Police Department officer was dispatched to a disturbance in the area of 7th Street and Garfield. As the officer arrived, he observed several parties engaged in a physical disturbance. The parties began to disperse when they noticed the officer’s red and blue lights.  

The officer observed three individuals enter a red Kia passenger car. The officer exited his patrol car and began loudly yelling commands for all parties to stop running. The driver of the Kia, later identified as 18-year-old Christian Sowash, attempted to drive forward, but stopped because another vehicle was parked in front of him. 

Teen Nearly Runs Over Officer's Foot

Sowash then put the vehicle in reverse and stopped as the officer approached the driver’s side window. The officer hit the driver’s side window with the side of his fist and commanded Sowash to stop driving. According to court documents, Sowash looked directly at the officer before putting his vehicle into drive, accelerating, and turning his vehicle toward the officer. The officer had to rapidly move back to avoid having his right foot run over by the vehicle, which would have caused serious bodily injury. 

The officer then observed the vehicle nearly strike a parked vehicle before driving westbound at a high rate of speed. The officer got back in his patrol vehicle and attempted to catch up to Sowash, but he was unable to close the distance while driving 45-50 miles per hour. The officer noted the marked speed limit in this area was 25 mph and based on his training and experience, he estimated Sowash to be traveling approximately 55-60 mph.  

At one point during the pursuit, Sowash deactivated his taillights and headlights. Sowash then reached a dirt road and continued at a high rate of speed, creating a thick dust cloud. The officer noted that with the dust cloud, the high rate of speed, and the deactivation of headlights and taillights, there was a significant risk to any person on foot or operating a motor vehicle in this residential area. Court documents indicate Sowash’s actions also placed his two passengers at risk of serious bodily injury or death with his driving behavior. 

Suspect Finally Stops His Vehicle

According to the officer, this pursuit lasted several blocks before Sowash eventually pulled his vehicle over after turning into a dead end. Sowash then exited the driver’s seat and laid on the ground. The officer approached and placed him in handcuffs. While speaking with Sowash, the officer noted the odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath. The officer also observed a case of Twisted Teas on the front passenger floorboard of the Kia. 

Sowash did not have his driver’s license on his person or in his vehicle and the officer was not able to confirm insurance on the vehicle. Around this time, another officer responded to conduct a DUI investigation. 

The other officer also smelled the odor of alcohol emanating from Sowash and observed Sowash to have red and watery eyes. The officer instructed Sowash on the standardized field sobriety tests and observed 9/18 indicators of impairment. Sowash was then read the PAST Advisory and agreed to provide a breath sample, which registered as 0.047% BAC. 

He Now Faces 10 Separate Charges

Sowash was placed under arrest and transported to the Missoula County Detention Center. He is currently being charged with two counts of felony criminal endangerment, DUI (under 21 years of age with an alcohol concentration of .02 or more), speeding, operating without liability insurance, failure to have driver's license in possession, obstructing a peace officer, possessing intoxicating substances while under age 21, fleeing from or eluding a peace officer, and failure to display 2 lighted lamps on a vehicle during the dark. 

The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable.

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