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Wrong-Way Driver Snarls Traffic

READER CONTRIBUTION: When a driver fails to yield to sheriff's deputies and starts driving on the wrong side of Ortega Highway, deputies respond en masse.

Patch reader Cliff Shimizu was traveling down Ortega Highway Friday afternoon when he saw the following events unfold:

"We had just exited the Northbound 5 fwy at Ortega and were going to head to Antonio to get to Rancho Santa Margarita. But as we turned right onto Ortega, we saw a police car pulling out from the curb with its flashing lights.

"It turns out he was following a vehicle. We thought he had just finished citing him, but the car then veered over into opposing traffic! Luckily, no one crashed into him as he was going slowly.

"A number of cars on our side of the street took this opportunity to pass the patrol car who was trying to get the other car to pull over. We stayed a ways behind the patrol car but continued to move forward slowly.

"Eventually, help arrived and they managed to block off the driver who had been going slowly against traffic. All traffic in both directions were now stopped, but we were near the front of the eastbound lanes.

"The driver repeatedly ignored requests to turn off his vehicle. Officers had weapons drawn on the car, but by this time, traffic behind us had been redirected in the other direction, so we were then able to back up and make a U-turn."

Patch inquired with the Orange County Sheriff's Department and learned that deputies had wanted to stop the driver  because "he was driving erratically and had possibly just been involved in a collision," Lt. John Meyer said through a sheriff's spokeswoman.

When the deputy attempted to pull him over on eastbound Ortega at the I-5 interchange, the male driver continued slowly east on Ortega and eventually veered over to the westbound lanes of traffic, Meyer said. The driver eventually stopped near La Novia Aveune.

"He was not responsive to the commands of the deputies, but it was later learned he was suffering from a medical condition," Meyer said. "He was treated by paramedics at the scene and transported to the hospital for further treatment."

Whophantom July 17, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Glad they didn't kill him like they did Sgt Loggins in San Clemente.
jim capistrano July 17, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Glad to see the OC Sheriffs showed some restraint when the driver wouldn't turn off his car...they proved that handcuffs, instead of bullets, is a viable concept...

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