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Driver arrested on suspicion of crashing into Santa Rosa business, fleeing after chase

A driver was arrested Tuesday after being pursued by Santa Rosa police after he ran a stop sign and ended up crashing into a business and running away, police said.

Charles Steward Pettway, 28, of Rohnert Park, was placed under arrest on suspicion of felony evading, violation of his post release community supervision time and misdemeanor resisting arrest. He has prior convictions and arrests for assaults and firearm possession, said Santa Rosa police Sgt. Chris Mahurin.

The pursuit started about 4:42 p.m. in the area of Olive and Hazel streets in Santa Rosa, police said. Pettway was driving a white Jeep that sped away and committed multiple traffic offenses, reaching speeds of more than 70 mph as he drove east on side streets toward Santa Rosa Avenue, according to the news release.

The sergeant chasing the Jeep called off the pursuit once the car turned east on Maple Avenue against oncoming traffic. Just a minute later, a collision was reported at the northeast corner of Maple and South E Street.

Witnesses said the car lost control and crashed into a business at 526 South E St., and the driver jumped from the vehicle and ran north, according to the release.

The collision “shook the whole building,” said a woman who works there, for a company called Association Management Services. She did not give her name, citing privacy reasons.

“This intersection has accidents all the time, so as soon as I heard the screech, I was waiting for the thump,” she said. “I had stood up, and saw [Pettway] get out of the vehicle and run.”

Pettway was taken to a local hospital and treated for minor injuries.

Shortly after the Jeep was towed, a utility pole on the property caught fire, said the woman. “So they evacuated us all out of there.”

The collision caused significant damage to an electrical power distribution box, causing a power outage in the area, according to the release. Several small electrical fires were quickly extinguished. PG&E was notified.

Staff Writer Austin Murphy contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Kathleen Coates at kathleen.coates@pressdemocrat.com.

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