LIBBY — The motorist who died when his vehicle crashed during a law enforcement pursuit near Libby Thursday has been identified as Taylor Ray Alford, 31, of Missoula.
At one point, the vehicle he was driving reached speeds of 100 mph in a 25 mph speed zone near Rosauer's, according to a Friday news release from the Montana Highway Patrol.
The chase ended at 5:07 p.m. when the vehicle struck an overhead traffic light post at the intersection of Highway 2 and Idaho Avenue in Libby and burst into flames, according to the Highway Patrol.
Several motorists had alerted police that a black vehicle was speeding east from Troy, crossing both lanes of traffic and running other motorists off the road, according to the release from Highway Patrol District 6 Commander Capt. Duane Bowers.
Sgt. Neil Duram and Trooper Bryce Ford, who'd been measuring the scene of a fatal collision with a pedestrian earlier in the day, headed east on Highway 2, and Libby police Sgt. Darren Short and Lincoln County Sheriff's Deputy Boyd White left Libby heading west in an attempt to find the vehicle.
"Troopers caught up to the vehicle as it entered the four-lane 50 mph restricted speed zone on the west side of Libby. The vehicle continued eastbound at a high rate of speed weaving through rush-hour traffic and failing to yield to the patrol cars with lights and sirens activated," according to Bowers.
It crashed after swerving across all four traffic lanes near Rosauers. "The fire was quickly extinguished by law enforcement officers on the scene and several local business owners who quickly responded with fire extinguishers and assisted in the fire suppression effort," Bowers said.
The driver wore a seat belt, but that wouldn't have helped given the speed, Bowers said. Nor were drugs or alcohol considered to be factors, although toxicology reports from the Montana State Crime Lab are pending.
"A possible medical emergency may have occurred and is being investigated," Bowers said
The investigation continues.