Grand Coulee man sentenced for stealing bus


Last updated 4/7/2021 at 7:55am

After a chase from Moses Lake with a couple dozen or more law enforcement officers from several agencies, the GTA bus rests in Electric City where it stopped the morning it was stolen. - Cheryl Pryor photo

After stealing a bus and leading officers on a chase across Grant County, a Grand Coulee man has been sentenced to just over three years in prison. 

Richard Manley, 62, stole a Grant Transit Authority bus Feb. 3 in Moses Lake at the bus station and drove it, pursued by officers, to Electric City, where the bus ended up on the side of the road and Manley was arrested.

No one else was on the bus.

Manley pleaded guilty Feb. 22 and was sentenced for the incident, the Columbia Basin Herald reported last week. 

"Manley's criminal history includes second-degree burglary in 1982 and 2016, DUI in 1994, third-degree assault in 1996, methamphetamine possession in 2017, and controlled substance possession and second-degree vehicle prowling in 2018," the Herald reported. "These were included in his offender score of eight for vehicle theft and five for attempting to elude a police vehicle. The standard sentencing range for those scores is 33-43 months, with a maximum of 10 years, for the first count, and four to 12 months, with a maximum of five years, for the second."

The paper reported Manley's sentence included 38 months in prison for the first count and one year for the second, running concurrently. "The imprisonment also was to run concurrently with another case, which was a 38-month sentence. Additionally, his sentence included $500 in fees for each case," the paper said.

Shortly before 7 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 3, according to a Moses Lake Police report, GTA bus driver Fidel Barajas pulled into the transit center on Fifth Street in Moses Lake. Barahas got out of the bus, spoke to Manley briefly, then entered the building briefly. When he came back out, Manley was in the driver's seat of the bus and said he had to go to Ephrata. 

Barajas went back into the building to notify his dispatch center, and Manley drove off. 

About 30 minutes later, a Grant County Sheriff's deputy was behind the bus on SR-24, attempting to pull it over, and a chase ensued. 

More than two dozen officers from various agencies were involved in the pursuit. 

The pursuit included heading west on state Route 28 and Road 23 Northeast, north on Pinto Ridge Road Northeast, entering Coulee City, then heading north at about 85 mph towards Electric City on SR-155.

Grand Coulee Police Sgt. Gary Moore set up a spike strip about seven miles north of Coulee City, the sheriff's office reported. Those spikes deflated one of the bus's left rear dual tires, but the driver was able to keep going at high speeds.

Grand Coulee Officer Andrew Kline set up another spike strip just south of Electric City, which deflated the right front tire of the bus. About a half mile later, the bus veered to the right while attempting to turn onto a street. At the intersection of Hillcrest Avenue and SR-155 the Manley hit a stop sign with the bus and came to a stop. He was arrested and taken to Grant County Jail. 


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