A California Highway Patrol cruiser. Courtesy CHP

A 25-year-old San Diego man was in custody Wednesday, accused of being under the influence of alcohol and possibly drugs when he climbed into the driver’s seat of a California Highway Patrol vehicle while handcuffed and sped off, ultimately crashing in a brushy field in the Fallbrook area.

Aaron Akira Teruya was driving his 2000 Ford Focus on southbound Interstate 15 south of Temecula Parkway around 3:10 p.m. Tuesday when he crashed at a high rate of speed into a truck pulling a trailer, according to CHP Officer Mike Lassig.

A Temecula-area CHP officer arrested Teruya on suspicion of DUI and he was handcuffed and placed inside the officer’s patrol vehicle, Lassig said in a statement.

“As the officer was finishing his investigation, the suspect was able to climb into the driver’s seat and drove away in the patrol car,” Lassig said. “Through patrol vehicle GPS and a witness from a local tow company, the patrol vehicle was located on state Route 76 near Gird Road. (It) was abandoned following an off-road traffic collision.”

Around 5:45 p.m., Teruya was found hiding in a brush area near the abandoned patrol vehicle, Lassig said, adding he was taken into custody without further incident.

It was not immediately clear whether Teruya was in the front or back seat of the cruiser when he allegedly climbed into the driver’s seat.

He was booked into the Southwest Jail in Riverside County. Lassig said Teruya will face multiple charges, including DUI, resisting arrest and vehicle theft.

No one was injured in either of the crashes.

—City News Service

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