Photo: Joseph David Hernandez’ work
Santa Barbara – As the midnight hour approached on Sunday, February 24th, a uniformed Santa Barbara Police Department patrol officer stepped outside of a downtown convenience store just in time to see what SBPD spokesman Sgt. Riley Harwood described as a vehicle “with five occupants heading past his location at a high rate of speed.”
Seconds later, another vehicle which appeared to be in pursuit of the lead vehicle, raced past. At that point, the driver of the first vehicle, “a compact Kia,” careened toward a major intersection roundabout and went “into a skid lasting almost the length of a football field” before smashing into the roundabout’s central planter and bouncing back into traffic.
The pursuit vehicle, later determined to have been the victim of a hit-and-run by the driver of the Kia, came to an immediate halt and alighted to render assistance.
The cop immediately rushed to the impact-suspect vehicle, alerting ambulance services and the Santa Barbara Fire Department of the need for their “jaws of life” equipment. The driver of the pursuit vehicle and the cop “rendered immediate aid” to the five occupants of the speeding Kia, two of whom managed to extricate themselves from the wrecked car.
Upon the arrival of SBFD rescue personnel and emergency medical services, the other three occupants of the Kia were extricated and transported to Santa Barbara Cottage hospital with “catastrophic” injuries.
The driver of the fleeing Kia, 23-year-old Oxnard resident Joseph David Hernandez—on probation for a prior DUI conviction—appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and was transported to Santa Barbara County Jail.
He was booked on charges of felony hit-and-run, possession of methamphetamine, driving with a suspended license, felony drunk driving with injury, and violating the terms of his probation. He remains in custody with his bail set at $100,000.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara Police Department