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Local News

Theft Suspect Arrested After High-Speed Chase in Santa Ynez Valley

Driver fled eastbound on Highway 154, causing at least one vehicle accident before crashing into a ranch gate

A Los Angeles man who led sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase on Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley on Wednesday was taken into custody after a foot pursuit. Click to view larger
A Los Angeles man who led sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase on Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley on Wednesday was taken into custody after a foot pursuit. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

A Los Angeles man suspected of robbing a Solvang tobacco store led sheriff's deputies on a high-speed chase on Highway 154 on Wednesday before colliding with several vehicles, crashing through a ranch gate and fleeing on foot.

The incident, involving a male and a female suspect, began at about 9:30 a.m. at the VIP Tobacco Shopp at 606 Alamo Pintado Road, according to Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

The original call was for an armed robbery, but later was revised to shoplifting, according to emergency radio traffic.

Witnesses gave a description of a suspect vehicle, a red Mitsubishi Eclipse, which was spotted by deputies heading eastbound on Highway 246 and then Highway 154, at speeds estimated at 100 mph.

"The deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle, activating overhead emergency lights, but the suspect vehicle refused to yield and sped away," Hoover said.

Deputies discontinued the chase for safety reasons, Hoover said.

A few minutes later, the driver — identified as Demetrius Ford, 31 — crashed into several vehicles on the 3500 block of Highway 154, causing minor injuries to one motorist.

Ford fled the scene, and a short time later crashed through a ranch gate on the 4100 block of Highway 154 and slammed into a tree, Hoover said.

He fled on foot and attempted to steal another vehicle at the ranch, Hoover said.

A Los Angeles man who led sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase on Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley on Wednesday is treated by paramedics before being taken to the hospital for injuries suffered in a vehicle crash. Click to view larger
A Los Angeles man who led sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase on Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley on Wednesday is treated by paramedics before being taken to the hospital for injuries suffered in a vehicle crash. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

"Deputies were able to access the locked vehicle via a window and removed Ford from the truck, taking him into custody without further incident," Hoover said.

Ford suffered moderate injuries in the vehicle crash, Hoover said, and was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

He was booked in absentia on an outstanding no-bail drug related probation warrant out of Los Angeles County, Hoover said.

In addition, she said, he faces the following local charges: providing a false name to a peace officer, shoplifting, reckless evading, felony hit and run resulting in injury, felony vandalism, resisting/threatening a peace officer, vehicle theft, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of tear gas by a prohibited person/felon and driving on a suspended license.

"It was later determined that the unknown female was not in the vehicle that Ford was driving," Hoover said. "An investigation is continuing to determine her identity and level of involvement."

Deputies were still searching for a possible female companion of the suspect, who reportedly was wanted on warrants out of Los Angeles County.

Ford was to be transported to the Santa Barbara County Jail after he is medically cleared from the hospital.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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.

A Los Angeles man who led sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase on Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley crashed his vehicle through a ranch gate on Wednesday before being taken into custody. Click to view larger
A Los Angeles man who led sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase on Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley crashed his vehicle through a ranch gate on Wednesday before being taken into custody. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)
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