Man Faces Life In Prison After Taking Plea Deal For Fatal Crash

A man who caused the death of a passenger while being chased in a stolen car last year has taken a plea deal that will put him behind bars for decades. On October 2nd of last year, Anderson Police chased a stolen Honda Civic south on Highway 273 into the Shasta Gateway Outlets parking lot. The front seat passenger, 21-year-old Ethan George Purdy, and woman in the back seat both asked to be let out of the car. The driver, 28-year-old Derreck Gary Tope, refused to slow down, zig-zagging through the parking lot before returning to Highway 273 and heading south on Interstate Five. At the Main Street exit to Cottonwood, Tope abruptly shot over from the fast lane hoping to elude his pursuers, but the car hit a curb and he lost control, sending the Honda over the embankment. It landed upside down, killing Purdy. Tope and the female passenger were treated and released from the hospital. At the time of his arrest, Tope was under the influence of Methamphetamine. He was wanted in four other stolen vehicle cases, and was already on formal probation for possession of a stolen vehicle. Initially charged with second degree murder, tope pleaded guilty Tuesday to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, evading with disregard for public safety, false imprisonment, three counts of possession of a stolen vehicle with a prior, as well as an enhancement for fleeing the scene and two for being out on bail at the time. On December 28th, Tope will be sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.