Troy man stirs up ruckus in Libby Saturday

Caleb Covey
Facebook photo, Caleb Covey

Videos on Facebook posted Saturday afternoon show a man in a gray hoody calmly tying an orange tow strap from his pickup to a lifted Toyota pickup, both rigs parked behind a berm of centerline snow, facing south in the northbound lane of Dakota Avenue in Libby, in front of a small house. Not to the axle, but to something on the roof at the top of the passenger side door.

A second man, wearing a cap and red flannel jacket, steps out from behind the Toyota as the first gives the strap a final tug and walks to the open driver’s side door of his pickup. A brief exchange appears to take place, but the man in the gray hoody doesn’t break stride, merely turns and raises his left hand in what appears to be a one-finger salute and gets in his truck, the second man still talking as the door closes. The truck starts down the street, the Toyota half rolling, half sliding behind him. The man in the red jacket backs up, getting out of the way as the two pickups head south.

They stop for a second, the Toyota taut at the end of the strap tied to the hitch in the center of the rear bumper of the lead truck. Snow flies as he gives it gas and plows through the berm and into the southbound lane of Dakota Avenue, stopping traffic. The Toyota lifting and tipping onto its passenger side as it comes through the berm. The two vehicles pause at the red light on Highway 2 at the end of the block, then turn into traffic, headed west, the four tires and undercarriage of the Toyota turned up to following traffic.

The odd string of events involving Caleb Covey, 37, Troy, ended hours later with him in custody and flown to Kootenai Health, Coeur d’Alene, where he was admitted to intensive care with multiple life-threatening, allegedly self-inflicted wounds, nature unspecified.

According to a press release issued Monday by Libby Police Chief Cody Ercanbrack, the incident began at 3:32 p.m. January with a report of a man deliberately driving into the side of the Dakota Street home mentioned above, stealing the Toyota and dragging it, flipped on its side, through town, hitting several other vehicles, a fence and a utility pole.

A police officer caught up with pair of trucks on California Avenue near Highway 2 and attempted a stop, but the rigs turned east on the highway. Addition police and Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies joined the slow-speed chase. Covey hit a pickup with a plow that had stopped in the street, and the tow strap broke.

Leaving the Toyota behind, Covey continued on, turning north on California Avenue and the chase turned high speed and headed west on Pipe Creek Road. Due to hazardous conditions and having positively identified the driver as Covey, with whom officers had a long history, pursuit was called off and law enforcement returned to Libby to assess damage and assist those whose day had been turned askew by unexpected contact with Covey.

Covey was later reported to have returned to town, and officers and deputies again attempted to stop Covey, who again took off, crashing into yet another car as he took off east on Highway 2 toward Troy. Deputies took up the chase as police fell off to stay in town, following as Covey turned south on Highway 56, Bull Lake Road, and crossing into Sanders County, where deputies were waiting, spike strips deployed.

The strips blew out the tires on Covey’s pickup at about Mile 4.5, but Covey continued on rims, turning west on Highway 200, where he was finally stopped by Lincoln County Deputies and found to be severely injured. Deputies provided first aid and basic life-saving medical until an ambulance arrived and transported Covey to an awaiting medical helicopter that flew him to Kootenai Health, where he was admitted, according to the press release. to intensive care in critical condition.

Ercanbrack said Covey was still an ICU patient as of Monday morning. An operator at Kootenai Health said today he is not listed as a patient, and critical care staff could not confirm for the press whether he is still under their care. He is not listed today as being an inmate at the Lincoln County Jail.

The incident is under investigation by the Libby Police Department, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and Idaho State Police.

“The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and the Libby Police Department would encourage all motorists that if you see a vehicle pursuit or Law Enforcement with their emergency lights activated to please move as far off the roadway as possible,” Ercanbrack wrote. “This will help keep everyone safe and allow Law Enforcement to focus on stopping the pursuit or safely arriving where they are needed. If your vehicle is damaged by a pursuit, park in a safe location and call dispatch.

“When talking to Dispatch, provide them with your contact information so Officers can follow up with you as soon as possible. If you are injured due to a crash, call 9-1-1 so we can send medical staff to help you right away. Please do not involve yourself in a pursuit, as they are very dangerous and rapidly evolving. Our highly trained officers and deputies will do all they can to stop any danger to the public as soon as possible. We are so grateful for our wonderful and brave community that we have the honor of serving. We are also thankful for our law enforcement partners who assisted with this case.”