A bizarre incident in the Santa Ynez Valley resulted in the arrest Wednesday night of an unidentified 13-year-old runaway after a high-speed chase involving a stolen vehicle, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
The incident began about 9:45 p.m. when a deputy attempted to pull over a driver in a 2004 Nissan Armada SUV at the intersection of of Alamo Pintado Road and Mission Drive in Solvang, according to Sgt. Mark Williams.
The deputy attempted a traffic stop after he noticed several things amiss about the vehicle, including that the back windshield wipers were operating even though it wasn’t raining, Williams said.
“He thought, ‘This person doesn’t know how to operate a vehicle very well,’” Williams said.
As the deputy approached, the car quickly sped away, heading eastbound on Highway 246. At one point, the vehicle reached speeds of up to 90 mph, Williams said.
The deputy pulled back in speed for safety reasons, and eventually found that the SUV had crashed into a ravine.
That’s when they discovered the driver was a 13-year-old boy from Arroyo Grande, who had been listed as a runaway, Williams said.
A 51-year-old female was also in the vehicle at the time of the crash, and had been sitting in the passenger seat.
Williams did not identify the woman other than to say she is from San Luis Obispo, and it’s unknown what the relationship is between her and the driver.
The teen was arrested and booked into juvenile hall, and the woman was taken to Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital, where she was treated for minor injuries.
The vehicle had been reported stolen and was registered to an owner in Morro Bay, and Williams said there was also stolen property inside the vehicle.
Williams said the boy has foster parents but was unsure if they had come to pick him up yet.
Williams said the boy was charged with fleeing with willful or wanton disregard for personal safety or property, a felony.
He was also charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and property, and the case has been forward to the District Attorney’s Office.