Lake Oswego Police nab erratic driver in Dunthorpe

The woman is from Michigan

Tawnya Lynn Damuth was arrested on October 11 after police say she was driving erratically in Lake Oswego. (KOIN)

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. (Lake Oswego Review) — Lake Oswego Police used spike strips and a “box-in” maneuver to stop a woman who was driving erratically in circles around the Birdshill Road loop in the Dunthorpe neighborhood on Wednesday afternoon.

No one was hurt, although the woman’s car suffered extensive damage.

According to LOPD Lt. Doug Treat, who was at the scene, police received a call from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s dispatch center asking for assistance in responding to reports of “a reckless driver who was trying to drive people off the road.”

The Birdshill loop is located at the southern end of the unincorporated Dunthorpe neighborhood and is just north of Lake Oswego city limits, but the Sheriff’s Office had no units nearby at the time, Treat said. The loop is a small, single-lane road with one-way traffic, with Underhill Road serving as the loop’s sole entrance and exit.

According to neighbors at the scene, the woman — who police later identified as 40-year-old Tawnya Lynn Damuth — had already driven around the loop several times before police were called, possibly as many as 50 times in total. Neighbors reported that a member of the private Dunthorpe Security Patrol had initially attempted to block the loop, but that Damuth had simply swerved around their vehicle.

Lake Oswego Police officers arrived to find Damuth still driving in a circle on Birdshill, going in the opposite direction from the usual flow of traffic. When she failed to respond to requests to pull over, the officers deployed spike strips to puncture her tires.

The strips worked, Treat said, but Damuth kept driving and made another half-dozen circuits around the loop.

“She was driving on her rims,” said Skip Ormsby, one of the loop’s residents.

Police ultimately used three vehicles to box in the car; two LOPD vehicles pulled off the loop to wait for Damuth to drive past, then closed in behind her while a third car entered the loop in the opposite direction ahead of her.

The box-in operation succeeded in stopping Damuth, Treat said, and neither she nor the officers were injured. None of the police cars involved suffered damage, although Damuth’s car did appear to have sustained significant damage to all four wheels and a smashed passenger side window.

The incident took place between around 2:30 and 3 p.m. on Wednesday, which meant that there were few pedestrians or other vehicles on the loop, and the school bus had not yet brought local children home from school.

Police said that both Damuth and the car are from Michigan. According to Treat, she told officers that she was aware of her actions and refused medical attention.

She also gave the officers a not-entirely-coherent statement saying that she had been authorized by President Donald Trump to come to Oregon and do what she was doing, but for reasons that the officers said were not entirely clear. Treat said Damuth declined to say anything further after that initial statement.

Damuth was transported to Clackamas County Jail, where she was being held Wednesday night on charges of attempting to elude police, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. Bail was set at $25,000.

The Lake Oswego Review is a KOIN 6 News media partner.