Scales of justice

A woman has been charged with stealing a car and then leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase that ended when she crashed into a ditch on Friday night.

Yvette Rae Ward, 20, appeared in Yellowstone County Justice Court Monday on felony charges of theft and criminal endangerment, and a misdemeanor charge of DUI first offense.

Ward stole a car that had been parked at the Holiday gas station on South Billings Boulevard, driving it away while the owner was inside the store, according to charges. The owner said he’d left the car running. Ward was accompanied by two other women, also 20 years old. All had been drinking, they told officers.

A Montana Highway Patrol trooper began following the stolen car and attempted to pull it over. The driver pulled the car into a church parking lot at one point, turning off its lights, but sped out of the lot and continued driving. The pursuit spanned 3.5 miles, charges state, and reached speeds of 110 miles per hour.

Eventually Ward left the road while trying to make a sharp right-hand turn. The driver crossed the oncoming lane of traffic, went off the road, into a ditch and ultimately came to a stop partially in Blue Creek. The vehicle was missing a wheel after the crash and might have traveled 50 yards off the road, according to MHP trooper Scott Ayers. The trooper who had followed the car then held all three women at gunpoint until more law enforcement arrived, Ayers said.

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.