Police: Suspect sets himself on fire after cross-valley chase

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EAST WENATCHEE — A 48-year-old Ellensburg man remains hospitalized in intensive care after allegedly threatening his estranged family, fleeing from East Wenatchee police and setting himself on fire in a moving vehicle Monday.

East Wenatchee Assistant Police Chief Ray Coble said Quan Ho Pham first refused to let his child out of his silver Lexus while having visitation Monday evening. The child eventually convinced Pham to drive to the Wenatchee Valley Mall about 8:45 p.m., where the other parent was waiting.

The child ran from the car into the mall, and Pham allegedly pursued with a machete in hand. Inside the mall, Coble said, he made threats to the child and the mother until a bystander intervened. Pham then left the mall in his Lexus before police arrived.

Douglas County sheriff’s deputies later found the car traveling on Eastmont Avenue about 10:30 p.m., and police pursued the vehicle around East Wenatchee and across the George Sellar Bridge into Wenatchee. The driver drove over spike strips set by police at Ferry Street without stopping.

As the Lexus traveled, Coble said, Pham threw small plastic bottles out of the window, and pursuing officers believed they could smell gasoline. Pham was apparently dousing himself with accelerant as he drove.

On North Wenatchee Avenue a Chelan County sheriff’s deputy used a car to nudge the vehicle into a crash as it neared Les Schwab in the 1600 block. Police said while still in the car, Pham set himself on fire.

The car coasted over a curb and stopped in the parking lot of Sav-Mart, 1729 N. Wenatchee Ave. Pham then bailed out of the vehicle, and police officers doused the flames with onboard extinguishers.

“He was fully engulfed in flames,” Coble said.

Ambulance crews ferried Pham to Central Washington Hospital. From there, he was transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment.

A spokeswoman at Harborview said Pham remained in critical condition in the ICU Tueday afternoon. If he survives, he’ll face likely charges of kidnapping, harassment and eluding police. However, Coble said his chances appear dire.

“It’s just a very unfortunate situation,” Coble said. “I wish the outcome would’ve been a little different. We wish we would’ve had more time to talk to him, and deal with it without him hurting himself.”

Pham, whose last known address was in Ellensburg, previously lived in East Wenatchee. He pleaded guilty in Douglas County in 2016 to a charge of unlawful imprisonment, after he assaulted his ex-wife in public and took their child away from her by force.