Police tactic ends high-speed
by Lenny Roberts
A 21-year-old Oak View woman with a reported criminal history
in Antioch, Calif. was arrested on several charges Monday afternoon
after she allegedly tried to escape pursuing sheriff's deputies.
Heather Arriola was taken into custody at gunpoint after the
pursuit, which reached high speeds on Creek Road, Highway 33
and the Ojai Freeway when Deputy Joe Preciado "t-boned"
her 1988 Toyota near the Casitas Vista Road off-ramp to stop
her from heading back on to the rush-hour traffic on the northbound
lanes of the Ojai Freeway.
The pursuit began at 4:35 p.m. when deputies patrolling the Casitas
Springs area said they saw Arriola's car traveling northbound
on North Ventura Avenue at Nye Road in the middle of the two-lane
highway, forcing vehicles in both directions off the road. As
they turned around to investigate, Arriola reportedly sped up
- still in the center of the highway - and reached speeds of
70 mph. Because of the amount of late-afternoon traffic, and
the perceived danger to the public, the pursuit was terminated
near Orchard Drive in Mira Monte.
Preciado, who had parked near Villanova Road and Ojai Avenue
to stop traffic in both lanes, learned that the blue Toyota hatchback
was nearing the city limits. He and Deputy Damien Schmidt observed
the suspect vehicle, again in the middle of the road, and followed
it as it turned onto Hermosa Road.
According to Preciado, the suspect then turned southbound onto
Creek Road, still driving recklessly. At about one-half mile
south of Hermosa Road, Preciado and Schmidt witnessed Arriola's
Toyota leave the road, where a 157-foot-long skid mark was later
measured, and collided with a hillside.
At gunpoint, Arriola refused to leave her vehicle.
"We yelled 'Stop,'" Preciado stated, "but she
took off and reached speeds of 70 mph on Creek Road, and we re-initiated
the pursuit because there was very little traffic."
As they continued southbound, knowing that her only choices were
to stop, which seemed unlikely, or get back onto Highway 33 near
the Arnaz Grade, Highway 33 in the Casitas Springs area was closed
to traffic. By then, a sheriff's helicopter was observing the
situation from the air, and radio broadcasts were alerting ground
deputies of traffic ahead of the pursuit.
According to the report, the suspect vehicle easily re-entered
Highway 33 and raced through Casitas Springs. Just after the
Casitas Vista on-ramp to the southbound Ojai Freeway, Preciado
said that Arriola slowed down and turned onto the dirt center
divider in an attempt to turn back toward Casitas Springs. Because
he knew that California Highway Patrol officers were slowing
down northbound traffic south of his location, he made the decision
to cut her off by ramming her car with his patrol unit as she
re-entered the northbound lanes- a maneuver that brought the
pursuit to an abrupt halt.
As converging patrol deputies arrived, the suspect was not only
unable to get out of the driver's-side door, but was unwilling
to leave through the passenger door. Preciado broke the passenger-side
window and he and other deputies removed the suspect from her
Arriola was arrested on suspicion of felony evading, driving
under the influence of drugs, and possession of drug-related
paraphernalia, reportedly a broken crack pipe and a syringe.
She was booked into Ventura County Jail later that evening after
being taken to the Ojai Sheriff's Substation for questioning.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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CONDUCT a search of the 1988 Toyota after it led officers on
a high-speed chase through Ojai and Casitas Springs.