Dec. 4—It’s been more than a month since a Grants Pass man rammed a Medford police cruiser with a stolen car, led the cops on a chase through west Medford and fired at officers during a nearly eight-hour standoff in a warehouse on Brian Way.
The car thief, Daniel Ryan Lee Tiger, 37, already has pleaded guilty, been sentenced to more than four years in prison and is at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility getting used to his new schedule.
In the meantime, the owners of the wheels Tiger stole still can’t drive their car.
The vehicle, a 2016 Mazda CX-9 owned by Emma Mitchell and Noah Pierman of Medford, was stolen from a local Lithia dealership where it had been sent for repairs.
With their brake lines failing, the couple had the vehicle towed to Crater Lake Mazda Sept. 19. A week later, Mitchell said she got a phone call from the business asking if they’d picked up the vehicle.
“I thought, we had it towed because we couldn’t drive it, so NO we didn’t come and get it,” Mitchell said. “My fiancé was taking my daughter to school the day before it was towed, and the brakes went out in the middle of an intersection. It wasn’t safe to drive.”
Fast-forward a month to Oct. 27: Mitchell got a phone call from a detective on the scene of the police standoff with Tiger saying police had located the family’s car — crashed by the man holed up in a warehouse surrounded by police.
Now having been without a car for two and a half months, Mitchell said she, Pierman and their three children are still relying on rides from family and friends and using taxis and services such as Uber to get to work and to other commitments.
Mitchell and Pierman retrieved the car — haggling the tow bill from $1,500 down to $70 — and have it sitting on the grass at their home in Medford.
Lithia Motors officials say it’s a mystery to them how the car got from their lot to a crime scene near Howard Memorial Sports Park.
Michelle Watson, corporate communications manager for Lithia, said records show the car was dropped off for service, service was completed and that a text message went out stating the car was repaired and ready for pickup.
“At this time, we are unable to provide additional details,” said Landyn Trammell, general manager for Crater Lake Mazda. “However, we sympathize with the customer and will fully cooperate in the investigation.”
Mitchell said emails to the dealership have gone unanswered, and she says she never received a text message stating the car had been repaired. In fact, she said the brakes are “still failing.”
“This is exactly how it happened. A guy named Phil called me and said, ‘I’m just checking in with you to see if maybe you already came to get your car. I’m hoping you did come to get it.’ I told him I hadn’t picked it up, and he said, ‘Oh, that’s weird because I saw it yesterday when I went home, but this morning it’s not there,’” Mitchell recounted.
“And then he told me to not freak out and that he’d go look around the lot because sometimes cars get moved or misplaced. So obviously, they didn’t end up finding it.”
Watson and Trammell declined to elaborate on the situation other than to say the car had been picked up after business hours, that the dealership still had the key provided by the tow truck driver and that the company would cooperate with the investigation.
For now, Mitchell, who produced a police report for theft of the car and a receipt for it being towed to the shop, said the family is still without transportation and without the money to have the car’s body damage — and brakes — repaired after incurring extra expenses for getting around.
Adding insult to injury, both have missed work and other appointments — consequences of limited transportation.
“Basically, the last time we saw it, we had it towed to be fixed, and now it’s sitting in front of our house, with pieces broken off of it and completely undrivable. We get to just look at it every day, as a reminder, while we’re trying to figure out how to get to work and get our kids where they need to go,” said Mitchell.
“Not only have we both missed multiple days of work because we could not find a ride, but our daughter has missed several days of school. … The brakes still don’t work, and we don’t have any answers. … It has been a living nightmare.”
The couple has started a GoFundMe to help with repair costs and legal expenses, gofundme.com/f/4t4k8-please-help-young-family-in-need?qid=2bfd1c7ec7344d8b56578c3cf58398c6
Reach reporter Buffy Pollock at 541-776-8784 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @orwritergal.