Felony and misdemeanor charges were filed Thursday against a San Diego man accused of stealing a California Highway Patrol vehicle after he was arrested for alleged impaired driving in Temecula.
Aaron Akira Teruya, 25, was arrested — twice — on Tuesday following incidents in Riverside and San Diego counties.
Teruya was arraigned this afternoon at the Murrieta courthouse before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Mandio, who appointed him a public defender before taking his not guilty plea to a felony count of auto theft and misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence, resisting arrest and escaping from custody.
Mandio scheduled a felony settlement conference for March 23 and ordered the defendant held in lieu of $12,000 bail at the Southwest Detention Center.
According to the CHP, Teruya crashed his car into the back of a pickup truck hauling a trailer on southbound Interstate 15, just south of Temecula Parkway, shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Officers arrived moments later and learned from witnesses that Teruya had been driving his 2000 Ford Focus erratically at high speed just before the collision, said CHP Officer Mike Lassig.
He said a sobriety test revealed the defendant was allegedly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“Mr. Teruya was handcuffed and placed inside the patrol vehicle,” Lassig said. “As the officer was finishing his investigation, the suspect was able to climb into the driver’s seat and drive away in the patrol car.”
According to Lassig, the defendant fled south into San Diego County. The CHP activated a GPS tracking device in the vehicle and, with the help of a tow truck driver who reported seeing it, located the vehicle abandoned in the area of state Route 76 and Gird Road, near Fallbrook.
San Diego and Riverside County sheriff’s deputies swarmed the area and found Teruya about two hours later, hiding in some brush, Lassig said.
Teruya has no prior convictions in Riverside County, according to court records.
— City News Service
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: