10/28/2007

Calif. deputy hit by teen driver in chase

Henry K. Lee
Chronicle Staff Writer

PETALUMA, Calif. — A teenager driving under the influence struck and injured a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy in Petaluma early today at the end of a two-mile chase, authorities said.

Deputy Brett Fairbanks was trying to stop a 16-year-old Petaluma boy by putting spikes on a Petaluma road at about 12:20 a.m. as the youth was being pursued by another deputy, the Sheriff's Department said.

The incident began when a deputy tried to stop the teenager for nearly hitting him near Corona and Adobe roads, authorities said. The youth briefly yielded to the deputy's emergency lights but then sped off.

Fairbanks, who was located ahead of the chase about two miles away. positioned what is known as a "spike strip" near Corona and Industrial Avenue, officials said.

But the youth veered away from the spikes and headed directly toward Fairbanks at a high rate of speed, authorities said. The deputy tried to move away but was hit by the teenager's car and thrown several feet. The car crashed into Fairbanks' patrol car, which was totaled, authorities said.

Fairbanks was taken to a hospital and was listed in stable condition. He is expected to recover, authorities said. The teenager, whose name was withheld because of his age, was arrested on suspicion of evading a police officer and causing injury while driving intoxicated.

Police say spike strips are a valuable tool to stop fleeing suspects. An officer on foot deploys the spikes, which puncture the tires of the car being chased. The officer then removes the spike strip to allow pursuing officers to continue following the car until it stops.

But at times, drivers notice the strips belong deployed and maneuver around them.

On July 31, California Highway Patrol Officer Douglas Scott Russell, 46, was struck and killed by a driver who swerved toward the officer after he had deployed a spike strip on Highway 50, authorities said. Russell was the third officer that the suspect, David Charles Zanon, 38, of Sacramento, tried to hit, police said.

Copyright 2007 The San Francisco Chronicle

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