Santa Rosa, CA – February 19, 2020 – Defendant Eric Vangelder, 56 years old of Geyserville, was sentenced on February 14, 2020to serve a year in jail by the Honorable Mark Urioste after pleading no contest in January of this year to felony reckless evading of law enforcement, and driving under the influence of drugs.
The charges were based on Vangelder’s arrest on September 15, 2019 after he was found driving under the influence of a drug, fleeing multiple pursuing law enforcement vehicles through traffic, and traveling in excess of 110 miles per hour. The incident began when Vangelder nearly collided with a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer in Geyserville while driving through a road closure at a high rate of speed, and ignoring several posted stop signs. A fellow officer signaled for Vangelder to pull over. However, Vangelder refused to yield to the traffic stop and accelerated away in an attempt to evade the officer’s vehicle. Vangelder continued southbound on Highway 101, ignoring multiple additional law enforcement vehicles; their emergency lights and sirens activated. At one point during the pursuit, Vangelder attempted to pass an innocent motorist at an unsafe speed, collided with a guard rail, and subsequently resumed driving. The pursuit lasted until Vangelder reached the exit at Airport Boulevard where Sonoma County Sheriff Deputies were able to deploy spike strips to disable his vehicle. Despite his vehicle being disabled, Vangelder still refused repeated commands to exit his vehicle after the pursuit ended, requiring a SWAT unit to respond. Vangelder had been previously convicted of driving under the influence in 2016.
District Attorney Jill Ravitch stated “This dangerous driving puts everyone on the road at risk. This ridiculous conduct was properly addressed through the court process.”
This case was prosecuted by DDA Robert Blade of the District Attorney’s Vertical DUI Unit. Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.