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Driver of stolen Hanford Water District truck leads CHP on chase into Santa Barbara

UPDATE – The suspect was caught on Islay Street near San Pascual. He was identified by the CHP as David Ponce from Porterville. He faces charges relating to a stolen vehicle, reckless and evading a police officer, hit and run and driving without a license.

The two people who were in the vehicle hit by the fleeing truck were not hurt.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s department and CHP were both involved in the pursuit on and off the freeway.

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An intense, multi-county high-speed pursuit involving a stolen truck out of Kern Co. ended after 7:00 p.m. Monday night in the Mission Street area off Highway 101.

California Highway Patrol (CHP) Captain Cindy Pontes confirmed to NewsChannel 3 that a Hanford Water District truck was reported stolen in Kings County about 12:15 p.m. Monday afternoon.

Within minutes, Kern County Sheriff’s deputies spotted the vehicle, took off after it, but discontinued their pursuit at Highway 41 and Utica outside Kettleman City because of heavy traffic.

Hours later, CHP officers in Buellton spotted the truck speeding in the southbound lanes of Highway 101 south of Highway 154 and tried to stop it. Santa Barbara County CHP took over the chase once the truck reached El Capitan.

Pontes said the truck’s driver exited at Mission Street, then jumped from the truck and took off running.

A Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s K-9 unit was at the scene and as one of the CHP officers ran toward the fleeing truck driver, the K-9 went after the officer, biting him in the leg.

“Unfortunately, the officer suffered a minor injury but will be ok,” Pontes said.

Pontes said the driver was eventually caught and arrested before 7:00 p.m. in an area along Mission Street.

The public is asked to avoid area due to the police activity.

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