SANTA BARBARA — Authorities caught up to the alleged thief of a Porsche convertible after the San Jose man, who led law enforcement in a high-speed cross-jurisdictional pursuit that reached speeds approaching 140 mph, crashed the luxury sports car into a freeway guard rail last week.
Aaron Michael Smith, 33, of San Jose was arrested at the scene of the violent freeway crash at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 9. Smith was charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor charges following the theft of a Porsche from a downtown Santa Barbara auto detailing shop.
According to Santa Barbara County sheriff’s spokesman Drew Sugars, Smith was first spotted by deputies from the Carpinteria substation as he drove southbound on U.S. 101 through the communities of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria around 11 a.m.
“We had a report of a stolen gray Porsche convertible and the deputy knew what he had as soon as he saw the vehicle,” Sugars said.
The deputy then attempted to initiate a traffic stop, but Smith instead accelerated through the late-morning traffic in an attempt to make his escape to the Ventura area. Keeping the Porsche in view, the pursuing deputy summoned additional units ahead of the Porsche, and they joined the chase just north of Carpinteria.
As the Porsche hit speeds nearing 100 mph, the California Highway Patrol responded with a unit taking the lead in the chase just south of Rincon Point at the Ventura County line where U.S. 101 widens and straightens, “which allowed him to achieve even higher speeds,” Sugars explained.
At approximately 11:25 a.m., Smith lost control of the Porsche, struck two other civilian vehicles, and then crashed into the freeway guardrail causing extensive damage to the vehicle before coming to a stop.
Smith was taken into custody by sheriff’s units at the scene. He was subsequently booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on felony charges of driving a vehicle without consent, felony evading a peace officer with disregard for public safety, reckless driving, driving without a license, unsafe lane changes, and driving in excess of 100 mph. Smith is currently being held in lieu of $75,000 bail.