California

Driver crashes into pole mid-chase, starts doing ‘yoga-type poses,’ Calif. cops say

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Kevin Butler with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy's police pursuit training class demonstrates how police officers train to drive when responding to a call or during a pursuit.
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Kevin Butler with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy's police pursuit training class demonstrates how police officers train to drive when responding to a call or during a pursuit.

A Northern California car chase ended with a crash last week — and perhaps with some downward-facing dog.

Deputies in Mendocino County said a driver struck a utility pole during a pursuit on Aug. 15, then exited her vehicle and performed “what appeared to be ‘yoga’ type poses.”

The driver, 39-year-old Jennifer Risch of Willits, was arrested on felony charges of reckless evading, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release on Sunday.

Deputies said the incident started Aug. 15 around 11 a.m., when a report came in of a suspicious woman who had a silver Nissan Xterra and was trespassing in Willits.

When deputies responded to the property, they couldn’t find the woman and left — but deputies were called back around 2 p.m. that day on reports that the same woman “was back at the location and was lying face down in a field,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.

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This time deputies found a woman in the driver’s seat of the Nissan SUV, the Sheriff’s Office said, adding that she started driving as deputies tried to speak with her.

Deputies followed the woman and noticed her driving into oncoming traffic, so they tried to pull her over by turning on their lights and sirens, the Sheriff’s Office said. But the driver wouldn’t stop, so deputies started a pursuit.

After driving about two miles, Risch veered off the road and crashed into a utility pole, “splitting it in half,” deputies said. Her vehicle then went through a fence before coming to a stop in a field about 100 yards from the road.

That’s when Risch got out of the driver’s side door and began doing yoga-style poses, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“Deputies called for medical and PG&E to respond and waited for additional Sheriff’s Office personnel to arrive before approaching Risch,” deputies said. “Once additional personnel arrived, Risch was taken into custody without incident.”

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After Risch had been taken to a hospital and medically cleared, she was booked at the Mendocino County Jail, where she was held on $35,000 bail, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Risch was released from jail on Monday, according to online jail records.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
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