SANTA ROSA – Francisco Arroyo-Arroyo is just lucky he’s not being charged with vehicular manslaughter; fortunate that at 1:30 in the morning of Tuesday, December 23, there weren’t more cars or people out of the road.
It began when he was traveling eastbound on Steele towards Mendocino Avenue, going 50 miles per hour in the 35 zone. According to a Santa Rosa Police press release, an officer was working radar traffic enforcement, on the lookout for late night speeders and DUI drivers during the Christmas holiday week. After clocking his spreed, the officer took off after Arroyo to initiate a traffic stop, but the 26-year-old, driving a 2002 BMW, did not stop, instead hanging a quick U-turn at the corner and heading off down Steele westbound, accelerating up to 100 mph.
Perhaps the young man’s instinct to flee was based on his history with law enforcement. Records show that he has had several arrests in the past few years. In March of 2010 he was charged with battery on a spouse or co-habitant (domestic violence), along with resisting arrest and a violation of his probation for previous offenses. In 2012 he was twice arrested – in May and July – for possession or being under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and driving with a suspended licence. In the July incident he was also charge with resisting arrest.
In April of 2013 he was charged with vehicle theft, possession of the stolen vehicle, and committing a felony while out on bail. A year later, in April 2014, the Rohnert Park police arrested him for possession of ammunition, which he was prohibited to have as a convicted felon, and further violations of his parole.
Another factor in his eagerness to escape may have been the alcohol he had consumed earlier that night. Arroyo’s speed, along with his disregard for red lights along Steele Lane, allowed him to pull away from the pursuing officer. Another officer responding to the pursuit saw the BMW zoom past as well, as Arroyo continued past the 101 Freeway underpass and the Guerneville Road cutoff, where Steele becomes a narrow 2 lane road. He even passed the Charles Shultz Museum, Snoopy’s Home Ice skating arena, and the Sonoma County Children’s Museum – again fortunately late at night when no kids were around.
He quickly reached the end of Steele Lane, which crosses Marlow Road and becomes a short cul-de-sac. Knowing the area well, Arroyo attempted a left turn, likely headed for his home, which is across Piner Creek on Gabriel Court. But at his high rate of speed and intoxicated state, he could not negotiate the turn, and crashed into the light pole in the south-west corner of the intersection.
As the pursuing officers arrived, Arroyo was gone from the crashed car, but a citizen who saw the wreck alerted the officers that the man had fled south on Marlowe. He was probably headed toward Valdez Drive, from where he could cross the creek and onto Nightingale, and then to home on Gabriel.
He never made it that far, however. Additional responding officers set up a perimeter, and a K9 officer used their police dog to track Arroyo, who was hiding in the bushes along Marlowe Road, right at the corner of Valdez. He was of course found to be under the influence of alcohol, and was arrested for felony evading, DUI, resisting arrest, and violations of his parole.