Pixel Tracker

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


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)

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >