SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Two people were transported to the hospital with serious injuries and two with minor injuries after a bus crashed into a stolen vehicle that was fleeing police in Downtown Santa Barbara Saturday.
Santa Barbara police said it started around 12:20 p.m. after an officer spotted a vehicle that had been reported stolen in the area of West Micheltorena and San Andres Streets.
The officer reportedly followed the vehicle for a short time and confirmed with their dispatch center that the car had been stolen from the north end of the city several days prior.
The officer then tried to pull the vehicle over on the 1600 block of Bath Street but the driver fled from the officer, speeding north toward West Islay Street.
After observing the vehicle driving recklessly and violating multiple traffic laws, the officer decided not to pursue it any longer in order to protect the safety of the community.
Santa Barbara Police spokesman Ethan Ragsdale explained that officers try to make sure the crimes and severity of a vehicle pursuit are balanced with what is safe for the community. He said the department determined the officer did a great job of deciding the pursuit was not worth the danger to community members.
After the officer ended the pursuit, the stolen vehicle reportedly continued fleeing east on Islay and ran a stop sign at State Street. An MTD bus that was traveling south on State ended up broadsiding the vehicle.
Fortunately the officer that had initially pursued the vehicle was only two blocks away and quickly responded to the crash. The intersection of Islay and State along with all immediately surrounding intersections were closed for about two hours while police conducted their investigation.
Injury traffic collision involving a vehicle & bus. State Street & Islay Street closed. Please avoid this area.— Santa Barbara Police (@SB_Police) May 15, 2021
SBPD said the driver of the stolen vehicle, a man, sustained serious injuries and was transported to Cottage Hospital for treatment. Two teenagers were also found inside the stolen vehicle. One suffered from serious injuries and was transported to the hospital while the other was uninjured. Both teens are being released to their guardians.
Police said there were six people on the bus that sustained minor injuries. Two of those individuals were transported to the hospital for assessment.
The bus reportedly sustained moderate damage during the incident. A crack in the windshield and a removed front bumper and bike rack will likely put the bus out of commission for some time.
Police said the driver of the stolen vehicle will be under arrest after being treated at the hospital for his injuries. He is believed to have been under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol during the crash. More information on the charges he faces will be released later.
Neither teen is under arrest at this time.
Police said all streets were reopened by 2:20 p.m.