ROCK SPRINGS – A $500,000 cash-only bond was set on a Rock Springs man in a virtual appearance in Circuit Court before Judge Craig L. Jones in Rock Springs March 12.
Sweetwater County Sheriff Rich Haskell said Steven Dean McLaren, 50, is charged with Attempt to Commit Murder in the Second Degree, Aggravated Assault and Battery (two counts), Kidnaping, Strangulation of a Household Member, DWUI (Controlled Substance, Second Offense), and DWUS.
McLaren was arrested by Deputy Sheriff Mike Klapel on the late afternoon of March 10 near the intersection of Yellowstone Road and U.S. Highway 191 north of Rock Springs.
According to charging documents, on March 10 Sheriff’s Office Detective Rich Fischer interviewed the victim, Jennifer Evans, at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County in Rock Springs, where she was being treated for her injuries.
She and McLaren are in a dating relationship, Evans told Fischer. That day, she said, they dropped off her kitten at the Mountainaire Clinic on Yellowstone Road, made a stop at Kelly’s Convenience Store, then proceeded north on Yellowstone Road in McLaren’s pickup, a blue 1996 Dodge extended-cab “dually,” with McLaren driving.
Evans went on to tell Detective Fischer that “when they reached the dirt portion of CR58 [Yellowstone Road], Steven McLaren began screaming ‘How many people were there…’” he “hit the gas…” and “while the vehicle was continuing to drive north on CR 58 [Yellowstone Road] Steven McLaren swerved and attempted to strike an oncoming pickup truck head on.”
Evans told Fischer she “looked over at the speedometer and noted it indicated the speed was greater than 80mph.” McLaren, she said, “continued to yell at her and asked her how many people she had killed” and continued to drive north on CR58 [Yellowstone Road] at a high rate of speed and attempted to strike a black passenger car head on.”
McLaren, Evans said, turned off Yellowstone Road, swerved north onto U.S. Highway 191, then stopped the pickup sideways on the highway in the path of an oncoming southbound Pepsi semi truck with her side toward the approaching truck, telling her “they were going to die today.” She attempted to jump out of the pickup, she said, but McLaren prevented her from doing so, pulling her back into the cab by the hair. McLaren, she told Detective Fischer, “told her she was not getting out and this was her last day to live.”
McLaren next turned onto the 14 Mile Road, Evans told Fischer and she “continued to struggle with him as he was punching her in the back of the head and face. Evans stated that Steven McLaren grabbed her by the throat at one point and attempted to ‘rip’ her throat out…” “that Steven McLaren grabbed her with his right hand…” “that she had trouble breathing and she started to make a gurgling sound… “that her vision ‘started to go dark’ and then Steven McLaren let her go.”
Evans then told Detective Fischer that “she was able to kick the truck into park and it stopped.” She “again attempted to exit the truck and Steven McLaren grabbed her and threw her down towards the front passenger floorboard… McLaren, she said, “put his left knee into her chest… she “was able to escape from Steven McLaren on the floor and attempted to get out of the truck on the driver’s side…” that McLaren “grabbed a ‘Maglite’ flashlight and put it to her throat…” that “she kicked Steven McLaren and he hit her with the ‘Maglite’ flashlight…” that “she was then struck a second time on the right side of her head with the ‘Maglite’ by Steven McLaren.”
Evans stated “she saw she was bleeding from the head” but was “able to escape the truck and run.”
Evans told Fisher she ran to the highway, falling down twice on the way, where a truck stopped to help her.
Having responded to the call, Deputy Sheriff Klapel located McLaren when he arrived at the scene and took him into custody.
Haskell said the driver of the Pepsi semi truck has been located and interviewed, as has the driver of the black passenger car. He credited initial media coverage of the incident, particularly that provided by the Internet news service Sweetwater Now, for aiding detectives in locating the black car’s driver.
Investigators, however, are still working to locate the driver of the pickup. Haskell reiterated that “Miss Evans told Detective Fischer that while they were northbound on Yellowstone Road, McLaren swerved and attempted to collide head-on with a southbound dark blue Dodge Super Mega Cab pickup with lifts and/or particularly large tires and chrome wheels… This would have been between 4:00 PM and 4:30 PM on March 10; again, on Yellowstone Road.”
Haskell stressed the importance of locating pickup’s driver and urgently requested that anyone with information contact the Sheriff’s Office.
McLaren remains in custody at the Sweetwater County Detention Center, as the investigation continues.