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Man accused of endangering 7 vehicles during high-speed pursuit through Bozeman

christopher watson.jpg
Posted at 1:03 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 13:22:53-04

BOZEMAN — A Michigan man was arrested in Bozeman on Tuesday after allegedly leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase through town, driving the wrong way up Springhill Road and endangering several vehicles.

Christopher Watson, 32 of Lansing, Michigan appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court on Wednesday where he was charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs and seven counts of felony criminal endangerment.

According to charging documents, two Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office deputies were serving a warrant at a camper located at Kimberwicke Street and Max Avenue around 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday.

The suspect, identified as Nicholas Paul Irei, reportedly had multiple warrants for his arrest and jumped in the passenger seat of a nearby truck when he spotted the deputies at the scene.

Charging documents say the driver of the truck, later identified as Watson, fled at a high rate of speed on Max Avenue with the deputies in pursuit. Watson allegedly turned east on Cattail Street and approached the intersection with 19th Avenue, where Irei jumped out of the vehicle.

Watson reportedly began driving south on 19th before making a u-turn and then continued northbound at high speed, eventually heading north on Springhill Road. Charging documents say Watson was driving in an “extremely reckless manner,” driving in the wrong lane multiple times and almost causing seven high-speed collisions.

At 11:30 a.m., Watson allegedly drove more than 100 miles per hour through a 15-mph school zone at Pass Creek School, where children were present in the school.

Nine minutes later, charging documents say Watson crashed into a fence and became stuck in the mud near the intersection of Rocky Mountain Road and Bremmer Creek Road. He reportedly began running through a farm field and initially could not be located by law enforcement.

At 12:42 p.m., deputies allegedly found Watson in a creek bed hidden under grass. Deputies say while searching and arresting Watson, they found a hypodermic needle and a small bag containing methamphetamine on his person.

Deputies say they also discovered that Watson had an active arrest warrant out of Michigan for a probation violation involving methamphetamine use.

In court on Wednesday, Watson’s bail was set at $150,000. He faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted of the charges.