Thieves foiled once, chased in stolen truck

Corrina Thomas was standing several yards away from her parked car June 13 at a campsite near Tustumena Lake when a man and woman allegedly walked up, nonchalantly entered the vehicle, and declared they were taking it.

Instead of backing off and letting the authorities track down the potentially dangerous thieves, the 31-year-old and her fellow campers - including her young children and a couple of friends - took matters into their own hands.

The man managed to get the keys, which had been sitting inside the vehicle, into the ignition and start the car, but before he could pull away, Edna Leake, Thomas' 21-year-old friend, landed a punch through the open driver's side window.

Leake, a tiny blonde standing just over five feet tall, opened the door and continued punching the man, who, according to a police affidavit, is about 6 feet 3 inches and 220 pounds. Leake opened the door to try and pull the man out as the woman sitting in the passenger seat tried to pull him back in.

Meanwhile, Thomas and Leake's 25-year-old husband John approached the driver's side. Leake's husband managed to get the would-be car jacker in a headlock while the two women continued to throw as many punches as possible.

"My 12-year-old son had the passenger door open and was ripping the girl out by her hair," said Thomas.

Thomas' 13-year-old daughter crawled through the back of the car, leaning over the center console and tried to help her mom remove the keys from the ignition. At one point, the man managed to put the car in reverse long enough to slam on the gas and roar backward.

The commotion and screams for help eventually drew the park manager and another camper's attention, and between those two and Leake's husband, the man was finally dragged out of the car.

"We were really lucky he didn't have a weapon," Leake said. "I didn't even really think about it. If my husband wasn't there, he could have just knocked me out."

The man and woman remained oddly calm throughout the whole ordeal, Leake said, and after the failed attempt at auto theft, the two sauntered off toward Crooked Creek. Hours later, troopers received a 911 call from Kasilof resident Michael Lampton. Lampton reported that while he was napping, someone stole his pickup truck right out of his driveway.

According to an affidavit filed by Trooper Joseph Miller, the vehicle was eventually located driving near Hooligan's in Soldotna. The truck refused to yield to the police officer's overhead lights. A high-speed chase down the Sterling Highway ensued, weaving through residential areas and manned construction zones.

The driver eventually lost control of the vehicle and drove into a ditch at Mile 84 of the highway. The female driver was identified as Denae Sullivan, and the passenger as Samuel Ross Willey.

Sullivan, 27, refused to make any statements or cooperate with questioning. While Willey, 44, initially complied with verbal commands, he eventually took off running. After a foot pursuit, two deployments of a Taser, and a physical struggle, Willey was arrested.

Sullivan and Willey are each charged with four felonies, including robbery in the first and second degrees and vehicle theft in the first degree. Sullivan also faces a felony charge for failing to stop at the direction of a peace officer.

The two were arraigned in a Kenai superior court Tuesday.

Bail is set at $5,000 for both Sullivan and Willey.

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