After high-speed pursuit, man arrested in hills above Sonoma Raceway

A Ben Lomond man who led CHP officers on two high-speed chases Wednesday in two counties was finally arrested near Sonoma Raceway by Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office deputies who jumped from a helicopter.

The incident began when Gene Ghaffari, 27, allegedly cut off a CHP motorcycle officer on Highway 29 with his black Ford Explorer in Napa County just after 5 p.m.

When the officer attempted to pull over the vehicle, Ghaffari fled at speeds reaching 100 mph, said CHP spokesman Officer Marc Renspurger.

The officer stopped the pursuit for public safety concerns, Renspurger said.

A short time later, another CHP officer spotted Ghaffari’s SUV near the intersection of highways 116 and 121 in Sonoma County and began a second pursuit, Renspurger said.

Ghaffari again fled, exceeding 80 mph on Highway 121 and passing multiple cars over a double yellow line. A CHP plane was deployed to assist in the pursuit, Renspurger said.

Ghaffari abandoned his Explorer by the Sonoma Raceway and ran into the surrounding hills, Renspurger said. A female passenger was briefly detained and released.

Around 6 p.m. the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office provided helicopter support.

Forty minutes later, deputies in the Henry 1 helicopter spotted Ghaffari running down a hillside. The helicopter landed, and Ghaffari was apprehended.

Ghaffari was booked for a drug DUI, evading police and resisting arrest.

You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203 or On Twitter @nrahaim.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette