The driver of an allegedly stolen Chevy Blazer crashed on campus early Thursday morning, prompting students to attempt to detain him until police arrived on the scene. No one on the scene was injured.
At approximately 2:45 a.m., Jose Contreras of Paso Robles, who police say was intoxicated and driving without a license, sped down Grand Avenue and crashed into trees near the Julian A. McPhee University Union, according to University Police Department (UPD) chief George Hughes.
The driver was fleeing the Chevron gas station on Monterey Street where he stole the unattended vehicle, Hughes said.
The driver was very drunk — too drunk to talk, San Luis Obispo visitor Sky Muir said, one of the first onlookers to the scene. After hearing the loud crash from the Sequoia Hall common room, Muir went down to the street where he saw the driver emerge from behind the smoking wreckage.
“I tried to stop him — he resisted; started running, got to the bus stop and then started sprinting,” Muir said.
The driver ran into a crowd of students that heard the crash from their residence halls, claiming he needed to make a phone call, Muir said.
“He got stopped by a few kids at the bisection of sidewalks, said he had to make a phone call because people were detaining him, and he started walking off,” Muir said.
The driver attempted to evade the crowds of students and looped around Sequoia Hall, making his way back to Grand Avenue, where he was finally apprehended, according to eyewitnesses.
The driver was arrested on site and later charged with auto theft, driving under the influence and driving without a license. The police then escorted the driver to San Luis Obispo County Jail.
“I don’t want to get caught up for this, let me go,” were the driver’s only statements as he was allegedly trying to flee the scene, minutes before the arrest.
The first officer to respond was Chad Reiley from UPD who spoke with Muir and four other onlookers at length, according to Hughes.
Police declined to make a statement at the scene of the accident.
Some students saw the vehicle speed down the street from their dorm rooms.
“I was on my computer and I saw outside my window a car swerving left and right, that’s all I had time to see,” business administration freshman Pranjal Gaur, who lives on the second floor in Tenaya, said. “Then I heard a giant crash — two screeches and a crash.”
Firefighters and an ambulance arrived at the scene and immediately approached the smoking vehicle with a crow bar and an ax. Firefighters proceeded to pry open the crushed hood of the vehicle.
A tow truck later arrived at the scene to remove the wreckage from the trees.
Zach Pollard contributed to this article.