Ventura – Robert Salazar, a 43-year old Oxnard resident may have been hoping to create a new triathlon category on October 20th, when he attempted to evade arrest by first driving a car recklessly, then running from the cops on foot, and finally plunging himself headlong into the roiling Ventura Beach surf and swimming to…who knows where?
It all began at nightfall when, according to a report made to the media by the Ventura Police Department Records Unit, “a Ventura Police officer saw a vehicle driving erratically on the northbound 101 freeway” and that officer made an attempt to pull the vehicle driven by Salazar to the curb.
At that point, however, Salazar hit the gas pedal and sped away, quickly exiting the freeway on the busy California Street offramp and then immediately turning toward the ocean. The area—frequented by legions of pedestrians enjoying the unseasonably balmy beach weather—is not conducive to high-speed vehicular traffic, but Salazar had little apparent regard for the safety of either foot traffic or those driving much more slowly on the narrow streets. “Due to the excessive speeds and dangerous driving” exhibited by Salazar, the pursuing officers abruptly halted their chase at that point.
Moments later, other officers spotted the suspect vehicle just a mile south, exiting the southbound 101 freeway and immediately colliding with another vehicle on the Seaward Avenue offramp. Salazar then veered up the beach frontage road and apparently abandoned the car. Moments later officers found the vehicle in the middle of the roadway, engine running. At that point, a search of the area on foot ensued, leading officers to the discovery of Salazar running down the beach. When contact with him was attempted, he summarily dove into the heavy surf and attempted an aquatic escape.
With large waves pounding the shore, Salazar eventually washed up onto distant jetty rocks where deputies from the Ventura Harbor Patrol and Ventura City Fire rescue swimmers retrieved the soggy car thief. He was taken into custody at that point and then booked into Ventura County Jail on charges of auto theft, driving with wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property while fleeing from pursuing officer, DUI, and hit and run.
Photo: Courtesy Ventura Police Department
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