Man follows DUI suspect until police arrive

Man follows DUI suspect until police arrive

Officers say while helpful, they don't encourage others to follow erratic drivers.

A suspected DUI driver is off the road thanks to a concerned citizen who followed that driver for miles until Bakersfield police officers could catch up. That concerned citizen is Rick Gonzalez.

"I knew he might have been intoxicated," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez first spotted a white van in northeast Bakersfield at Manor and Panorama. That was around 8:30 Monday morning.

"He was swerving all over the road," said Gonzalez. "He ran a bunch of stop signs and red lights. So, I called 911 and I followed him."

"He called up our communication center," said Sgt. Glen Grundeis. "And, he continued to follow the vehicle at a safe distance, and he kept giving us updates of the vehicle."

The updates wound through east Bakersfield, stopping at a green light at Fairfax Road, continuing to the City in the Hills, and then onto Westbound 178 where officers caught up to the driver at Morning Drive. But, the driver ignored the lights and sirens for miles, reaching Pine Street downtown where he was stopped by traffic and police.

"He had about three near-misses. There was a couple of oncoming cars that moved out of his way and stuff," said Gonzalez.

While police appreciate Gonzalez's help, they don't encourage other drivers to follow anyone acting erratically on the roads. The same goes for the CHP.

"If we tell somebody, you know, go follow this person, and if something unfortunate happened then, of course, we are held responsible and liable for that. And, we want to make sure everybody is safe out there," said Officer Robert Rodriquez with CHP.

Officers say they don't want other drivers to break laws just to keep up, or put themselves in harms way. Even though, in Monday's case, the harm was removed.

"I wanted him to get caught," said Gonzalez. "I wanted him to get arrested. I don't want him to kill somebody. And, if he did get into an accident, I wanted to be a good witness and make sure that they caught the guy."

Bakersfield police and the CHP say drivers should call 911 to report erratic drivers with as many details of the car and driver as possible. The driver in this case was arrested for DUI and evading police.

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