Cloverdale man leads officers on high-speed chase, crashes into trailer, police say

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A Cloverdale man was charged with leading police on a high-speed chase over the weekend that ended when his car flew into the air and crashed into a trailer west of Rohnert Park, authorities said Monday.

George Lawton, 40, had to be extricated from the silver Volvo following the Saturday night crash, though he suffered only minor injuries, a Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety news release said.

The impact of the collision propelled the trailer into a nearby home near Arlington Avenue, the news release said. Lawton was the sole occupant in the car and no one else was injured, police said.

Lawton, who police said smelled of alcohol at the time of his arrest, was booked into the Sonoma County Main Jail on suspicion of felony reckless evading, resisting arrest and driving under the influence, jail logs show.

The incident began sometime after 10:25 p.m. when a Rohnert Park officer inside a 76 gas station on Redwood Drive saw the Volvo pull up to a gas pump without any license plates, the department said.

The officer left the store sometime later and noticed a out-of-state license plate had been placed on the back of the car. Two men were in the front seat of the vehicle and a third man was standing outside, police said.

The officer became suspicious that the vehicle may have been stolen or used in some other crime. He and a second officer approached the car, which sped off, leaving behind one of the men. The man told police he did not know the two men inside the Volvo, the news release said.

A Rohnert Park K-9 officer saw the Volvo 15 minutes later at a Chevron on Commerce Boulevard, less than a half-mile from the 76 gas station where police first spotted the car.

The officer attempted to approach the car and the driver fled, reaching speeds that exceeded 100 mph, according to the news release. About two minutes into the pursuit, the driver of the Volvo missed a turn onto Arlington Avenue and crashed through a fence, hitting a berm that sent the car into the air, police said. The vehicle slammed into the parked trailer.

Lawton was transported to the hospital and, once he was medically cleared, began fighting with officers, the news release said. He was placed in a restraint and taken to the Sonoma County Jail, police said.

Tests to determine whether Lawton was under the influence of drugs or alcohol were pending, the department said. Lawton remained in jail with a $30,000 bail on Monday.

Officers later determined the Volvo was not stolen.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets.

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