Woman sentenced for crashing stolen bus in Blaine

Blaine police chief Mike Haslip and a Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputy help a woman out of Semiahmoo Bay after she tried to escape police by swimming to Canada. The woman had stolen a school bus from the Stanwood school district and led Blaine police on a brief but wild chase down Marine Drive.  Photo by Molly Ernst

Blaine police chief Mike Haslip and a Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputy help a woman out of Semiahmoo Bay after she tried to escape police by swimming to Canada. The woman had stolen a school bus from the Stanwood school district and led Blaine police on a brief but wild chase down Marine Drive.
Photo by Molly Ernst

By Steve Guntli

An Everett woman who crashed a stolen school bus in Blaine’s Marine Park in May was sentenced to prison on June 25.

Elizabeth Jane Ray, 54, will spend one year and one day in state prison. She was charged with second degree assault on a police officer, possession of a stolen vehicle and two other felony charges, but pleaded guilty to reduced charges of third-degree assault, possession of a stolen vehicle and attempting to elude police. She must also pay $81,000 in damages.

On May 1, Ray stole a small yellow school bus from the Stanwood-Camano School District in Snohomish County and proceeded to drive north toward the Canadian border. Blaine police officer Tim Richardson spotted the bus when Ray stopped for gas in Blaine. Ray drove the bus into Richardson’s patrol car, nearly hitting Richardson in the process, and fled west along Marine Drive.

The bus eventually crashed into a log barrier, at which point Ray fled the vehicle and jumped into Semiahmoo Bay. Witnesses at the scene reported hearing Ray repeatedly yell, “God will save me!” as she attempted to swim north towards White Rock.

Blaine police commandeered a powerboat and for 20 minutes tried to convince Ray to climb aboard. Eventually, fearing Ray would become hypothermic, Blaine officers jumped in and retrieved her. At the time of her arrest, Ray gave the name “Elizabeth J. Winters,” which was later determined to be false.

Ray was previously arrested in Snohomish County in 2013. According to court records, Ray was charged with second-degree assault for breaking into her elderly mother’s Marysville home, assaulting her with mace and a wooden drawer and stealing several valuables from the house.

Ray and her public defender Maialisa Vanyo did not explain why Ray stole the school bus. A court-ordered mental health evaluation found Ray has a history of mental health issues, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other undiagnosed problems.

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Deborra Garrett sentenced Ray to a year and a day, slightly over the usual 9–12 month sentence that is standard for Ray’s charges. The extra day gives Ray an opportunity to serve time in the state prison system, with access to better mental health care. No charges are expected in Snohomish County.

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