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CHP: Santa Rosa DUI suspect who crashed stolen car hid in storm drain

A Santa Rosa man suspected of driving under the influence was arrested in Petaluma Wednesday after police pulled him out of a storm drain where he’d been hiding after fleeing a crash on Highway 101, authorities said.

Matthew Hunter, 29, was weaving between lanes and cutting off other drivers as he drove south in a white Ford Explorer on Highway 101 in Petaluma around 6 p.m., the California Highway Patrol said in a Facebook post.

A Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office helicopter in the area began tracking the Ford, which authorities later determined had been stolen in Santa Rosa. Sheriff’s deputies told CHP officers on the ground that the driver, later identified as Hunter, had crashed into another vehicle just south of the East Washington Street exit and fled on foot.

CHP officers searched for Hunter behind a shopping center next to the freeway, where they spotted his clothes. Officers found Hunter hiding inside a storm drain, the CHP said.

A Sheriff’s Office video of the incident shows the suspect wearing only a pair of shorts as officers pulled him out of the drain.

Hunter was booked into Sonoma County Jail without bail on felony charges including vehicle theft and DUI of both drugs and alcohol, in addition to misdemeanor charges that included vandalism.

Hunter was also charged with violating a two-year probation sentence that began Tuesday for stealing a vehicle in April, court records show.

Hunter also had a prior charge of misdemeanor vandalism, which he entered a no contest plea for in late June. He was initially sentenced to 120 days in jail for the crime, though he was later referred to a work release program.

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Pera at matthew.pera@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @Matt__Pera.

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