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Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 5:13 am | Mostly Cloudy 52º

 
 
 
 
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RV Driver’s Wild Ride Leaves Trail of Wreckage in Santa Barbara

School bus and multiple vehicles are struck before the suspect is taken into custody at Foothill and Northridge roads; motorcycle police officer slightly injured

A man is helped to a gurney after leading Santa Barbara police on a chase through the city that left a trail of wreckage. No serious injuries were reported.
A man is helped to a gurney after leading Santa Barbara police on a chase through the city that left a trail of wreckage. No serious injuries were reported.  (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

Anthony John Griffin

A man driving an RV led Santa Barbara police on a chase through several neighborhoods Monday, striking multiple vehicles — including a school bus — during the pursuit, authorities said.

After leaving a trail of wreckage, the suspect — Anthony John Griffin, 28, of Santa Barbara — was taken into custody when the RV broke down on Foothill Road near Northridge Road in the San Roque area at about 2:30 p.m., according to Sgt. Riley Harwood.

The RV was involved in eight collisions, including on Bath and Micheltorena streets, Harwood said. Multiple collisions also were reported in the Mission Street area, and another was reported at Anacapa and Padre streets.

The school bus, loaded with about 30 children, was heading to a camp in the Santa Ynez Valley when it was sideswiped on Los Olivos Street, north of Garden Street.

No injuries were reported, and the children were later put on another bus to continue their trip.

The children had just been picked up at the Santa Barbara Mission, according to CHP Officer Dan Ralph, and were on their way to the Circle V Ranch Camp & Retreat Center near Lake Cachuma for a multi-day stay.

Nancy Gonzalez, whose sons Israel, 14, and Michael, 9, were on board, was following the bus down toward Garden Street when the collision occurred.

A side-view mirror lies on the street Monday after a school bus was struck by an RV on Los Olivos Street during a chase in Santa Barbara. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

As the bus was slowing for a stop sign, "I heard the crash, and I thought, 'Oh my gosh, it's an accident.'"

Gonzalez said the RV was heading east on Garden when it made the left turn onto Los Olivos and sideswiped the bus, shearing off its left side-view mirror.

"Then he backed up and hit it again," she said.

Gonzalez said she yelled at the RV driver to stop, but he had a glazed look on his face and ignored her.

"He wouldn't even look at me," Gonzalez said.

The incident began at 1:49 p.m. when police responded to a domestic-violence call in the 2500 block of Anacapa Street, involving Griffin and a 55-year-old woman who was living with him in the purple-and-white RV parked on that block, Harwood said.

Officers contacted the woman, whose name was not released, and got her to safety, but Griffin stayed inside the RV, Harwood said.

Police, including Deputy Chief Frank Mannix, survey the scene at Anacapa Street and Constance Avenue where a police motorcycle and patrol car crashed into each other while responding to the scene. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Griffin refused to come out of the RV, Harwood said, then drove away. He returned a short time later, the left again.

Officers at one point tried to remove Griffin from the RV, but he resisted and began driving away, damaging at least two police patrol cars in the process, Harwood said.

Griffin then fled the scene in the RV, according to Sgt. Shawn Hill.

“Actually, we’re lucky this wasn’t a lot worse,” Hill said, noting the number of collisions.

For safety reasons, police discontinued the pursuit as the RV drove through town, but officers were able to follow the vehicle as it drove onto Foothill Road.

After the RV came to a stop on Foothill Road, Griffin was taken into custody and placed in a patrol car.

He later was able to walk to a nearby gurney, and was taken by ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he was treated and released, Harwood said. 

Griffin, who was later found to be under the influence of alcohol, sustained numerous self-inflicted cuts on his body, Harwood said.

Griffin was arrested on charges of felony domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon and felony evading related to the pursuit, Harwood said.

He was also arrested on suspicion of felony hit and run, because a driver and passenger involved in one of the collisions complained of back pain, Harwood said.

A Santa Barbara police motorcycle officer was taken to the hospital after a collision with a SBPD patrol car Monday afternoon. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Griffin was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $500,000.

A Santa Barbara motorcycle officer was transported to the hospital after a collision with a police patrol car at Constance Avenue and Anacapa Street while both were responding to the scene during the pursuit.

The officer was treated and released, Harwood said.

A second officer was injured when Griffin ran over his foot, Harwood said.

Investigators from the Santa Barbara Police Department and the California Highway Patrol were following up on all the collisions.

Authorities closed down roads during collision investigations, including a portion of Constance Avenue and Foothill Road, but closures were lifted by 4:30 p.m. 

Noozhawk Executive Editor Tom Bolton and Staff Writer Lara Cooper contributed to this report.  

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

The driver of an RV that led police on a chase through Santa Barbara Monday, leaving a trail of wreckage, is taken to a gurney by emergency personnel on Foothill Road. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

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