An 18-year-old man wanted in connection with at least a dozen vehicle thefts in Sonoma County was arrested Thursday after leading officers on a chase that began in Rohnert Park and ended after a three-hour manhunt through Santa Rosa's Sonoma County Fairgrounds.
Three people were sent to local hospitals with moderate injuries after Joshua Isaac Wandrey III of Rohnert Park collided with at least six vehicles during the chase, police said.
Wandrey was being held on $750,000 bail on suspicion of felony hit and run, auto theft and evading officers among other charges, said Santa Rosa Police Department Sgt. Michael Lazzarini.
"Fairground employees spotted him and gave chase on foot and in a golf cart," Lazzarini said. "Then he ran into our responding officers."
The search began when a Rohnert Park Park Public Safety officer saw a teal Honda Accord that matched the description of a car reported stolen early Thursday heading northbound on Highway 101, Sgt. Dave Welch said.
Officers pursued the Honda, which was outfitted with stolen license plates from Lake County, Welch said. The driver merged onto eastbound Highway 12 and sped onto the E Street exit ramp, where he side-swiped two cars merging onto Bennett Valley Road, Welch said.
"All of a sudden I heard him smash into our car," said Esther Mitchell, 82, of Santa Rosa, whose car was hit on the off-ramp as she and her husband drove home after buying groceries.
The Honda driver then sped down Bennett Valley Road toward Brookwood Avenue and crashed into a silver Volvo stationwagon.
"She was hit from behind and the blow lifted the car into the air and spun it around," witness Josafat Medrano, 75, of Healdsburg said in Spanish.
The driver, 30-year-old Patricia Deering, of Petaluma, was transported to Santa Rosa's Kaiser Medical Center with moderate injuries, said Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Rich Celli.
The impact caused Deering's car to slam into a red Toyota truck driven by Leonard Carlson, 74, of Rohnert Park. Carlson was also transported to Kaiser Permanente with moderate injuries, Celli said.
Following the crash, two people fled from the Honda. Police said 28-year-old Caressa Hearp of Santa Rosa took off from the car and ran northbound on Brookwood Avenue. Passersby chased her and officers apprehended her. She was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for a dislocated wrist and other injuries, police said.
The driver, identified by police as Wandrey, ran south on Brookwood Avenue toward the fairgrounds.
A crossing guard who was escorting school children across the street at the end of the Ag Days event at the fairgrounds told police she saw a man running into the fairgrounds, Celli said.
Dog teams from Petaluma, Santa Rosa and the CHP, a helicopter from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office and officers from three agencies began searching buildings and the grounds.
A fairgrounds employee spotted Wandrey just after 3:30 p.m. walking out of a building wearing a garbage bag, three hours after the chase began.
"He walked out carrying a broom, a trash picker-upper and a dust pan," said the employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I was just dumbfounded because the guy was wearing a garbage bag. I tried to run after him and tried to corral him in but he got out."
He radioed a coworker who chased after him in a golf cart as Wandrey ran across the street to the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Hall parking lot, where he jumped a fence and ran into a residential neighborhood.
Police apprehended Wandrey on Lee Street, Sgt. Lazzarini said.
Investigators had been searching for Wandrey in connection with at least a dozen vehicle thefts in Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Sebastopol, Lazzarini said.
Court records show Wandrey was out on bail for narcotics and theft charges.