Photo: Munoz’ wreck
May 17, 2021 – Santa Barbara, Ca.
24-year-old Santa Barbara resident Jose Munoz probably thought he was in no danger of being caught driving a stolen Honda as he cruised blithely along the streets of his hometown.
But when—just after noon on May 15th —Munoz saw a black-and-white Santa Barbara Police Department cruiser in the Honda’s rearview mirror, he clearly had an idea that maybe it was time to put pedal to the metal. As he did so, the trailing cop, who had identified the Honda as one reported stolen earlier in the day, attempted to initiate a traffic stop by turning on red lights and siren.
According to SBPD spokesman Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale, those red lights apparently inspired Munoz to put pedal to metal in an attempt to flee. As the Honda and the pursuing patrol unit were moving through busy downtown streets, the officer “did not keep pace with the fleeing vehicle for community safety reasons.”
Perhaps thinking he was making a clean getaway, Munoz then proceeded to run a series of intersection stop signs to further his lead ahead of the slowly pursuing black-and-white, by then “approximately one block away.”
But Munoz failed to take into account the fact that four-way stop signs on Santa Barbara’s streets are there for a reason, and as he drove through a busy intersection, a Metropolitan Transit Authority passenger bus which had the right of way slammed into the side of the Honda, bringing it to an immediate halt.
As officers arrived on the scene just moments later, six bus passengers were found to have minor injuries while Munoz and his two juvenile passengers were determined to have suffered “serious injuries.” All those injured were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment while Munoz was arrested and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, evading
arrest possessing a controlled substance and driving under the influence and causing injury.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara Police Department