May 19, 2011 9:53 PM by Ariel Wesler

Driver crashes outside Santa Maria High after high-speed chase

A man is in the hospital tonight after leading Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies on a high-speed chase through Santa Maria. Deputies say the pursuit started around 2:30 Thursday afternoon on Broadway near Waller Park. It ended after the driver crashed his truck in front of Santa Maria High School.

Deputies say the driver reached speeds of 80 miles per hour, heading north on Broadway.

"Due to the time of day, the traffic, the location of the school, the deputy in pursuit had backed off due to safety concerns," said Sgt. Rob Wilkinson with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

The truck then jumped a curb, hit a city sign, and turned over in front of Santa Maria High, just as school was letting out. Deputies say the pursuit had started minutes earlier on Broadway near Waller Park.

"Deputies came across the vehicle attempted to do a traffic stop and the vehicle took off," Wilkinson said.

Investigators say the man was driving a truck that had been reportedly stolen.

"The subject was able to kick the windshield out and a short foot pursuit ensued and he was finally taken into custody just a few feet away," Wilkinson said.

The driver was put in a neck brace and taken to the hospital, but deputies are grateful the situation did not end in disaster.

"No damage to any other vehicles or any other persons," Wilkinson said. "Very fortunate."

The Santa Maria Police Department will investigate the crash. The sheriff's office will look into the vehicle theft.

One southbound lane on Broadway was blocked while investigators cleared the scene.


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