The man who allegedly stole a van and engaged several police officers in a car chase before hitting a police vehicle in Garapan, allegedly told police that he was drinking beer while driving and was just having a “good time” during the pursuit.
Frank Manglona Sablan, 34, was taken yesterday before Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho, who kept him on a $20,000 cash bail on charges of theft of vehicle, reckless driving, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, criminal mischief, prohibition, and obstructing justice.
Camacho remanded Sablan to the custody of the Department of Corrections.
Traffic investigator Norris Kwon stated in his report that Sablan admitted to knowing that he was being followed by police officers but that he was actually “having a good time” before he got caught.
Kwon said Sablan also admitted to drinking beer while driving because he was “trying to be cool.”
Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Thomas Blas Jr. said that a vehicle theft was reported to police on Monday at 3:47am, at the parking lot of Payless Supermarket in Chalan Kanoa.
When traffic officer Peter Aldan arrived at the scene, he met with Ok Jin Lee, who told him that she had gone inside the store and had left her 2013 Toyota Sienna van in the parking lot. When she returned, the van was no longer there.
At 11:02am that same day, Aldan spotted the van exiting JD Store along Chalan Monsignor Guerrero in Chalan Kiya. Aldan activated his blue lights and siren in his marked police cruiser in an attempt to make a violator stop.
The van did not stop and, instead, sped up, going up As Terlaje Hill, then toward Dandan Road, Flame Tree Road, Koblerville Road, Tun Thomas P. Sablan Road, Beach Road Chalan Kanoa, and finally Beach Road Garapan.
During the chase, the van was allegedly traveling between 70 to 90 miles per hour on a 35-mph zone, recklessly overtaking other vehicles using opposite travel lanes, passing through red traffic signal lights, and several near collisions with other motorists and pedestrians.
The pursuit ended only when the van became disabled after Sablan intentionally hit a police cruiser near Hard Rock Café in Garapan.
A police officer ordered Sablan to step out of the van, but the suspect continued drinking beer and refused to get out. The officers forced Sablan out of the van and arrested him.
A breathalyzer test was conducted after less than two hours and indicated that Sablan had a blood alcohol content reading of .079 percent. The legal BAC limit in the CNMI is .08 percent.
The van had extensive damage in the front, while the police vehicle—a 2012 Nissan Frontier crew cab—had minor damage in the front.