Narcotics agent dies following road rage incident

Saturday, November 19th 2005, 11:33 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ An undercover state narcotics agent died Friday from a massive head injury suffered six days earlier in a road rage incident with a man who may have been high on methamphetamine, authorities said.

Choc Ericsson, an agent with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, died shortly before 6 PM at Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City, said OBN spokesman Mark Woodward. He was surrounded by members of his family and law enforcement agents.

``We were kind of suspecting the worst and hoping and praying for the best,'' Woodward said about Ericsson's chance for recovery. ``It was such a massive head injury.''

Meanwhile, the suspect in the incident, Leslie Don Vance, 29, remained hospitalized at OU Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the chest, Woodward said. Vance was shot as he confronted Ericsson outside the agent's Woodward home on Nov. 11.

Woodward said Vance has a lengthy criminal record ranging from concealing stolen property to methamphetamine manufacturing and was seen using the highly addictive drug just before the confrontation with Ericsson.

Vance will be taken into custody following the agent's death. Woodward said charges will be determined by Woodward County prosecutors.

Ericsson, 38, was run over while trying to detain Vance, who had followed the agent's wife and children home from a grocery store and nearly forced the family off the road, Woodward alleged.

Ericsson's wife ran into the couple's house and Ericsson came out to investigate. Vance, who was parked in the driveway, backed out and was pursued by the agent in an OBN vehicle, Woodward said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.

Ericsson, a narcotics agent for five years, eventually pulled Vance over and ``soon realized the suspect was under the influence of meth,'' Woodward said.

He said Vance became combative and dove back into his vehicle. Ericsson, apparently fearing the man was going for a weapon, tried to grab Vance, who then started to pull away in his car and dragged Ericsson across the road, eventually running over him, Woodward said.

Ericsson sustained severe injuries to his head as well as a broken leg.

The investigation has revealed that Vance may have followed other motorists on the same evening he followed Ericsson's wife, Woodward said.

``This guy was on a rampage that night,'' said Woodward, who described Ericsson as ``a hero.''

``I have no doubt Choc not only protected his family but others who would have been in Vance's path that night,'' he said. Ericsson and his wife had children aged 10, 8 and 6.

Woodward said the agent's death has put new emphasis on the need to combat methamphetamine production and use in Oklahoma.

``There's a pattern here that should be blatantly obvious to people, that meth suspects are psychotic and violent,'' Woodward said.

In Muskogee on Friday, a federal jury sentenced a man to death for the 1999 shooting of an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper who was killed while trying to serve a warrant in a methamphetamine-related investigation.

``While we have made great progress in the war on methamphetamine, this tragic incident illustrates that there is much more work to do,'' OBN director Lonnie Wright said.

``This deadly drug has endangered the lives of far too many Oklahomans, particularly in the law enforcement community, and it is critical that we step up our efforts to combat both the production and distribution of meth,'' Wright said.

A special account has been set up to benifit the family. If you would like to donate, you can send donations to:

Stock Exchange Bank
Family of Choc Ericson, Special Agent
P.O. Box 1008
Woodward, Ok 73802