Driver disappears in State Park after asking a camper for a "ride to the hospital"
SANTA BARBARA - California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) members assisted the California Highway Patrol and Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies in trying to apprehend a suspect who led officers on a chase through two counties and in which the vehicle he was driving hit numerous cars and ended up in flames.
The vehicle pursuit on December 23, 2015 started around 4:30 p.m. after a CHP officer witnessed a Toyota 4Runner speeding on Highway 101 near Buelton. The driver ignored lights and sirens in the officer's attempt to pull him over and continued driving. During the pursuit, the driver hit cars at two locations and continued driving. In one instance the suspect was driving the wrong way and on a flat tire. Near Rincon beach, the suspect's vehicle appears to have crashed into a guard rail and caught fire. The suspect then fled on foot. Witnesses at Emma Wood State Beach say the suspect asked a camper for a ride to the hospital and when the camper said no, the suspect fled.
Despite a lengthy search by K-9 units, Ventura police, CHP, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies, and State Park rangers, the driver vanished. The suspect is described as a white male adult wearing a black shirt with a red logo and wearing blue jeans. There was a passenger in his vehicle who is also unaccounted for.
Responding to this call for service and the search for the suspect were CSLEA members, State Parks Rangers Josh Pace and John Geno Lucich.
"Our State Park ranger members are in the thick of crime that takes place in and out of state parks," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "When criminals run and hide in state parks, the safety of everyone, working or visiting, is at risk. State parks rangers are there to protect people and property."