Santa Barbara County – Santa Barbara’s exclusive Montecito—an unincorporated hillside and beachfront community that is home to some of the wealthiest and most high-profile celebrities in the world—was the starting point of a protracted high-speed police pursuit late in the evening of August 28th.
According to Drew Sugars, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Public Information Officer, Montecito’s law enforcement services are provided by SBSD under the terms of a county contract, with constant patrols by senior deputies familiar with the area’s homes, citizens, and traffic patterns. When a Sheriff’s patrol unit observed a silver Toyota pickup truck driving through the neighborhood streets late at night with its headlights off, “a routine traffic stop was initiated,” Sugars reported.
At that time the driver of the pickup truck ignored the flashing red lights behind him and blew through “multiple stop signs and picked up speed,” according to Sugars. With the Sheriff’s unit in pursuit, the pickup truck’s driver, in apparent disregard for his safety or that of other motorists, accelerated through Montecito roadways. The pursuing Sheriff’s unit attempted a Pursuit Intervention Technique maneuver to bring the pickup truck to a halt, but the suspect managed to continue his forward progress, turning onto the northbound U.S. 101 freeway.
At that time, CHP units were alerted to the incident and joined the pursuit. Approximately 5 miles north of Montecito, the pickup truck exited the freeway and proceeded northward over State Highway 154, a notoriously dangerous mountainside ascent over the 1500’ elevation San Marcos Pass leading into the Santa Ynez Valley, which has been the scene of multiple fatal accidents in recent history, including the deaths of two CHP motor officers.
With SBSD and CHP working in concert, a spike strip “forced stop” was prepared at the bottom of the Hwy 154 road just outside of the town of Santa Ynez at the intersection of Hwy 154 and Armour Ranch Road, another site of frequent high-speed fatalities in the past. The pickup truck ran over the spike strip, blowing out three tires, but managed to continue on its course. Another PIT maneuver was attempted, with no more success than the first attempt in Montecito.
As the pickup veered into the parking area of the Chumash Indian Casino, one of the damaged tires came off the wheel and the vehicle ground to a halt. At that time Allen Rappuhn, 38, was taken into custody. Rappuhn, wanted on outstanding felony warrants, was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of recklessly evading law enforcement without due regard for the safety of others, and is currently held without bail.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking, Caltrans, Chumash Casino
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