Officer was injured deploying spike strip

Bailed-out felon denies causing multi-car crash

Attorney John Wilshke and defendant Neftali Lopez in court on May 2
  • Attorney John Wilshke and defendant Neftali Lopez in court on May 2

A 44-year-old man who was out on bail led officers on a 45 minute pursuit in a stolen car, and caused injury to multiple persons, a prosecutor alleged in court yesterday, Wednesday, May 2, 2018.

Neftali Lopez pleads not-guilty to fleeing officers from Oceanside police, San Diego County Sheriff and California Highway Patrol during a chase almost a year ago, on June 28, 2017.

Deputy Terrence York said he witnessed a man looking into parked cars about 3:44 a.m. in the community of Fallbrook, and when that man saw the officer he jumped into his car and took off at a high rate of speed. Deputy York called in the plates and that car came back as stolen.

Law enforcement officers from different agencies joined the pursuit which went through Fallbrook and Oceanside and Bonsall and Vista, according to deputy York. The officer said he witnessed the fugitive drive into oncoming traffic, and drive through stop signs and red lights. Other vehicles on the road were forced to stop and weave and even drive up onto the sidewalk to avoid the dangerous car, according to York’s testimony during a preliminary hearing.

At one point, another officer attempted to deploy a “spike strip” to disable the fugitive car, but that car swerved and drove up onto the tether instead of the spikes, according to deputy York. This caused the spiked strip to swing back onto officer Luis Ochoa, who was holding one end of the tether. Officer Ochoa suffered a lacerated hand which required medical treatment and stitches, York testified.

The silver Honda Pilot ran a red light and caused a multi-car collision at the intersection of Osborne Street and East Vista Way, about 4:20 a.m., officers testified. One driver in that collision suffered a lacerated knee, according to deputy York, who took Neftali Lopez into custody at gun point.

Eleven days earlier a woman identified as Katrina said she is a resident of Oceanside, and when she went out to her garage the morning of June 17, 2017, she found her silver 2006 Honda Pilot car was missing. She said it was her habit to leave the keys in her car and the doors unlocked. It was June 28 when law enforcement informed her that her stolen car was involved in a collision and had been towed away. Katrina discovered that several jackets and pairs of shoes and sunglasses were missing from her car; but she was able to retrieve her hand sanitizer still in the glove compartment. Katrina did not bring her car home because the insurance company declared it “totaled,” she told the judge.

Honorable judge Robert P. Dahlquist noticed that at the time of the collision, Neftali Lopez was out on bail for a previous case. In November of 2016 Lopez had been charged with several felonies including possession of drugs for sale, felon in possession of firearm and ammunition, and possession of stolen property. Lopez was able to bail out of custody for that case, but he then failed to appear in court in April of 2017, the judge stated.

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Prosecutor Helen Kim has charged Lopez with five new felonies, including possession of stolen vehicle, fleeing police on highway in wrong lane, evade officer with injury, and dui causing injury, plus a special allegation of causing injury to multiple persons.

This is the kind of person that needs to be in jail the rest of his life.

A comedy of errors (that could have been tragic), beginning with "out on bail". Someone clearly misjudged this fugitive (who laughably pleads not guilty). Too bad the officer was injured and much damage was done but questions are many. The man driving a stolen car was apparently looking to steal another car? Odd. And, we're talking about 4AM when nice people are in bed. Why was there a pileup at the intersection and cars swerving to avoid the Honda? Wow, but the juiciest bit was Katrina who "said it was her habit to leave the keys in her car and the doors unlocked.". I bet her Facebook password is "Katrina". Once again, truth is stranger than fiction. Thanks Eva.

Everyone wants to believe they live in a nice area where bad things don't happen. And Katrina seems an optimistic, pleasant woman who wants to look on the bright side of things. She was pleasantly surprised when she was able to recover her hand sanitizer from her wrecked car.

While Katrina may well be optimistic, pleasant woman she is as dumb as a box of rocks. Hopefully she learned a lesson but I am afraid that you just can't fix stupid.

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