KINGMAN – The recent death of a Kingman woman in a two-vehicle collision during a law enforcement pursuit in some ways parallels another tragedy that occurred here almost a decade ago. Both incidents produced the deaths of innocent civilians during police pursuits of parole absconders from the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC).
Linda Chevalier, 66, Kingman, was fatally injured in April, 2014 when her vehicle was struck on Bank St. by another driven by Robert James Dodd, who was fleeing pursing officers at the time. Dodd, now 51, was sentenced to more than 60 years in prison for convictions following her death, and he is not scheduled for release until late 2088.
Chevalier’s death also prompted civil litigation.
The Chevalier family, led by Linda’s husband of 46 years, former Deputy Mohave County Treasurer Dave Chevalier, filed a $15.2 million wrongful death lawsuit that initially targeted the State of Arizona, DPS, Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and the Kingman Police Department. It alleged that officers should have terminated the chase before the crash in the interest of public safety.
Chevalier had won a Kingman Women Making History Award the year before her death and regularly attended the St. John’s United Methodist Church. She left a legacy of community involvement in one cause or another.
The family lawsuit was settled out of court before trial. Its terms remain confidential.
A spokeswoman for the ADC this week confirmed that former north Kingman area resident Juan Ortiz, 44, was paroled from prison last August, but was declared an absconder on Dec. 5, for undisclosed community supervision violations. DPS said state gang task force members attempted to contact Ortiz at the Airway Ave. car wash at about 8:13 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26.
“As detectives approached the suspect vehicle, the suspect rammed two detective vehicles, at which point a trooper shooting occurred,” a DPS news release said. “The suspect fled in the vehicle and was involved in a collision at the intersection of North Bank Street and East Northern Avenue a short time later. This collision resulted in the death of a driver in a vehicle unrelated to the initial incident.”
The deceased was identified as Sarah Bingham, 21, Kingman, who was reportedly working her pizza delivery route at the time of the crash. DPS said officers were not hurt and that Ortiz was taken into custody and treated for injuries before he was booked into the Mohave County Adult Detention Center.
Current charges noted in the inmate tab of the Sheriff’s Office website include second degree murder, aggravated assault and other charges, including the alleged parole violation.
Ortiz began his first Arizona prison term in Nov., 2005 when sentenced for burglary and misconduct involving weapons convictions. He earned more incarceration for an unlawful use of means of transportation in 2008.
More prison time was imposed in June, 2011 for assault, robbery, drug and weapon related offenses.