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Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies shot and critically injured a wrong-way driver who rammed three deputies in a Sebastopol parking lot after a high-speed chase that started Wednesday night when the woman was spotted driving in reverse on Highway 101 in Windsor, authorities said.

The driver, whom police identified as Karen Janks, 46, was shot an unknown number of times and was undergoing treatment at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, sheriff’s Lt. Darin Dougherty said. Police said the driver’s injuries were life-threatening.

Janks’ mother, reached at home late Thursday, said she understood her daughter’s prospects for survival were not good.

Two deputies struck by the car suffered minor injuries and a third was treated and released from a hospital, officials said. No further information on their conditions was available.

Santa Rosa Police Lt. Rainer Navarro said Janks was a transient from elsewhere in the Bay Area and that it was unclear what brought her to Sonoma County.

But her mother, Gail Janks of San Mateo, disputed that characterization and said her daughter, an optician and the mother of a 19-year-old woman, had recently moved to Santa Cruz after a run of bad luck that included the loss of a job she had held for several years at a San Francisco optometry office, the loss of her home, and problems being paid at a new job she had obtained after resettling.

She said her daughter may simply have gotten in her car “and just driven. She might have just wanted to get away.”

A Feb. 12 roadside video Janks posted of herself on YouTube, soulfully singing a New Testament ballad, “was how she prayed,” her mother said.

“It was a series of events that left her vulnerable,” Gail Janks said. “And this is very sad, very sad. She’s a beautiful, smart woman.”

In the minutes preceding the shooting, Janks was observed “driving erratically, upward of 100 mph, on the highway,” said Navarro, whose agency has taken over the investigation under the countywide law enforcement critical incident protocol. “At one point, she was driving backwards, which is dangerous in itself.”

Three of the four deputies involved in the incident are assigned to the Windsor Police Department, which contracts with the Sheriff’s Office to provide police services. They were identified by the Sheriff’s Office as Deputies James Falberg, Lawrence Matelli and Daniel Edwards.

The fourth, Deputy Joel Pedersen, is a 24-year department veteran assigned to the main office, department spokeswoman Sgt. Cecile Focha said.

Falberg has been with the Sheriff’s Office for nine years. Both Matelli and Edwards were hired from other law enforcement agencies — Matelli three years ago and Edwards a year and a half ago, Focha said.

On Thursday morning, yellow police tape cordoned off a large area where Old Gravenstein Highway meets Highway 116. The Sonoma County sheriff’s helicopter buzzed above, taking aerial photographs of the scene. The shooting occurred in a parking lot of a business park behind the Antique Society.

The incident began at 11:46 p.m. Wednesday when a 911 caller reported seeing an Infiniti sedan driving in reverse on Highway 101 near Windsor, Navarro said. The caller said the 1996 G20 four-door car was traveling south in the northbound lanes and then made a U-turn and exited the highway in Windsor.

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Five minutes later, a deputy saw an Infiniti run a red light on Old Redwood Highway near Starr Road in Windsor and tried to pull the driver over, Dougherty said. The motorist didn’t stop, speeding away on Highway 101.

The deputy pursued the car as it headed south, called for backup and alerted the Santa Rosa Police Department and CHP.

“At one point, the deputies tried to use a spike strip (to stop her), but that was unsuccessful,” Navarro said.

With lights flashing and sirens sounding, deputies followed the Infiniti off the highway at Todd Road, where Janks almost collided with another driver, and continued on the rural route from southwest Santa Rosa to the Sebastopol area. The road narrows, with deep culverts on each side instead of shoulders, and includes straightaways and sharp 90-degree turns among cow pastures. At one point in the pursuit, the vehicle lights were turned off, police said.

The driver turned right on Old Gravenstein Highway, turned into the business park parking lot of 2661 Old Gravenstein Highway and stopped, Navarro said.

Deputies reported to dispatchers the “termination of pursuit,” meaning the vehicle pulled into the parking lot and stopped, at 12:06 a.m., Navarro said. The Sheriff’s Office requested an ambulance respond to the area at 12:07 a.m., emergency dispatchers said.

The deputies ordered the driver, who was the only one in the car, to surrender, officials said.

“She put the vehicle in reverse and struck the deputies, knocked them to the ground,” and also hit a patrol car, Navarro said.

Multiple deputies fired several rounds into the vehicle, hitting Janks an unspecified number of times, he said.

Navarro and Focha said it was unclear late Thursday if the three deputies who were struck by Janks’ car were among those who fired their weapons, or whether additional deputies had arrived at the scene by that time.

When the car stopped, deputies “pulled the driver out of the vehicle and tried to administer first aid and CPR,” Navarro said.

An ambulance crew took the woman to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital at 12:23 a.m., according to police and emergency dispatch reports.

Gail Janks said she and her husband, a San Francisco optometrist, were informed of the incident Thursday morning by officers who came down from Santa Rosa and arranged for a chaplain to visit with them.

Navarro asked anyone with information about Janks, the car she was driving or the case to call police at 707-543-3590.

The Santa Rosa Police Department’s violent crimes team was brought in to investigate the shooting because of the countywide protocol that calls for another area law enforcement agency to investigate officer-involved shootings. Sonoma County District Attorney investigators were also at the scene, Navarro said.

Staff Writer Mary Callahan contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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