FORT BRAGG – High speed chases usually look at least something like a Hollywood movie, with the suspect in a sports car tearing through the streets at a dangerous speed, endangering the lives of drivers and pedestrians along the way. And that’s what happened in Fort Bragg last Friday night, except the car was a white minivan.
The Mendocino Sheriff’s office said that at about 10 pm Friday, September 12, a patrol deputy traveling on Highway 1 through Fort Bragg saw the minivan coming the opposite direction at a high rate of speed, and veering into the oncoming traffic lane. The deputy quickly turned around to pursue, and followed the van southbound, reaching speeds up to 100 mph. When it reached Simpson Lane, the driver had to lock the brakes and skid, narrowly avoiding a collision with other cars. The pursuing deputies thought they would be able to stop the van, but it instead circled the round-about intersection, and headed back north.
Now traveling at 30 to 55 mph, the van turned right onto Highway 20, Fort Bragg-Willits road. About 5 miles in, as the road became more curvy, the driver tried to maintain his speed. At 6 miles, he hit more curves, and this time lost control. The wheels hit the gravel, the van skidded, and jumped across the road into the opposite embankment. It ended up facing westbound, back towards Fort Bragg. The driver then hit the gas again, slid, and came to a stop again facing the side of the road. Perhaps seeing no other escape, he floored it once more, right off the road and down a 75 foot embankment, where the chase was finally over.
They pulled out the driver, with his distinctive beard and long hair, and identified him as Anthony Fields, 32 years old. Once a resident at a Victorian style home in central Fort Bragg, he is now considered a transient.
Fields had been arrested in November of last year on charges of assault with force likely to cause great bodily harm, and conspiracy. He was on probation for those offenses. He was arrested Friday night on charges of driving under the influence, evading a peace officer, and probation violations. He is now being held without bail at the Mendocino County Jail.