Two accused in separate RV pursuits appear in court

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A man and a woman, each accused of leading police on wild pursuits in an RV, appeared Tuesday in court.

The two pursuits, a year apart, saw CHP pursue an RV to Bakersfield and, in the more recent incident — of course, involving a different RV — all the way to Tarzana.  

In both cases, the RV pursuits began in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Julie Ann Rainbird, aka Julie Ann Fehlman, 52, of Santa Clarita, appeared Tuesday on one felony count each of fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s motor vehicle causing serious bodily injury, hit-and-run driving resulting in serious injury to another person and cruelty to an animal, as well as three counts each of assault with a deadly weapon (RV), and hit-and-run driving resulting in injury to another person.

On May 21, deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station tried to detain Rainbird at her RV near The Old Road and Calgrove Boulevard in Valencia when she then started the vehicle and fled, with dogs aboard.

During the pursuit, the defendant is charged with ramming into several vehicles, causing injuries to the drivers, said Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

The pursuit ended with a crash in Tarzana, where one of her dogs was injured, he said.

Rainbird was scheduled to return to court next month to set a date for a preliminary hearing.

Also on Tuesday,  Stephen Merle Houk, 48, appeared in court in connection with an RV pursuit that happened just over a year ago.

Houk was arrested in May 2018 on suspicion of 14 felonies, including kidnapping with use of a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon, making criminal threats, domestic violence, child endangerment and felony evading. His bail was set at $1 million.

After more than 100 miles, the CHP pursuit of the RV believed driven by Houk with children aboard ended in an almond grove north of Bakersfield near Shafter, according to an account of the pursuit and capture given by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

When it got dark, Houk walked to Bakersfield, where he asked for and obtained train information from locals. Houk, according to the LASD,  jumped onto a train, which he believed was bound for Arizona.

On Tuesday, Houk was told to return to court at the end of the month.

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