Officials: O.C. driver plunged off road fleeing CHP

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Personal Injury News

Article Date: 9/4/2009 | Resource: MLG

Officials: O.C. driver plunged off road fleeing CHP

“Huntington Beach man drove pink Mazda off Highway 74, south of Palm Desert, in what may have been suicide attempt.”

PALM DESERT – A man and a woman from Huntington Beach in a pink Mazda plunged off a mountainside, plummeting about 150 feet, while trying to evade authorities, a California Highway Patrol officer said today.

The Desert Sun is reporting that the crash Wednesday – which injured the vehicle’s two occupants – is being investigated as a suicide attempt, according to the CHP.

After a police chase that ended with a car near the bottom of a mountainside just south of Palm Desert, according to CHP officer Ramon Perez, Damian Nonte, 36, was arrested and is in Riverside County Jail in Indio. He has been charged with attempted murder, evading arrest and assault with a deadly weapon, Perez said.

His passenger, Holland Ashley, 33, was released from Desert Regional Medical Center and charged with interfering with a police investigation.

About 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, a CHP officer reported seeing Nonte driving a pink Mazda through a construction zone, nearly hitting at least one Caltrans worker, Perez said.

The officer pulled the car over, but Nonte sped and drove through another occupied construction zone, the CHP said.

After a chase, Nonte reportedly drove off a northbound lane of Highway 74 and fell about 150 feet. Neither occupant was wearing a seat belt, according to the CHP.

Nonte and Ashley sustained injuries and were taken to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, but their injuries were considered minor, Perez said.

Perez says the area has had its share of crashes.

“You know, this kind of thing happens all the time,” Perez said. “Especially at night.”

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Jeffrey Marquart