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Man found dead in pond 2 days after fleeing deputies

The family of a 20-year-old Davis man discovered him dead in a pond surrounded by thick brush near Highway 101 north of Healdsburg on Friday — about 2? days after he was last seen fleeing Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies who stopped him for a broken headlight.

Authorities had searched without success for James Flavio Gomez, a student at Sacramento City College, since he ran from them Tuesday night after first driving over the foot of a sheriff's deputy.

Gomez's mother said her son had fled because he didn't have a driver's license — not because he was on drugs, as authorities have suggested.

"He was a kid who got scared, and was afraid of getting in trouble," said Laura Blyth of Davis. "He had a headlight out, and (deputies) were telling him 'That's not safe,' and then he made the worst choice of his life. But he's just a young, young kid."

Gomez was pulled over Tuesday at 8:15 on Healdsburg Avenue, just south of Alexander Valley Road, Sheriff's Lt. Denis O'Leary said in a statement.

Gomez became "agitated and displayed symptoms of being under the influence of a controlled substance," said O'Leary, who could not be reached for details.

When a deputy opened the car door, Gomez sped off, running over another deputy's foot. The car crashed at Lytton Station Road and Healdsburg Avenue, where a passenger, Kelsey Michaela Stauffer, got out.

She was arrested nearby on suspicion of resisting arrest and being under the influence of a controlled substance, O'Leary said.

Blyth said Friday that Stauffer was her son's girlfriend, the car was hers, and Gomez had been driving home from Fort Bragg because Stauffer was sick.

"She told me they were both completely sleep-deprived, they'd been camping and not sleeping, I don't know," said Blyth, who added that she had seen the evidence booked in from the car and it did not include drugs.


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