An incident that began yesterday morning when Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies received a stolen car report ended with the suspect — who led authorities on a high speed pursuit along Highway 101 south of Carpinteria — careening off an embankment and knocking himself unconscious.

According to Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Drew Sugars, dispatchers received a call around 10:30 a.m. that Long Beach resident Erick Tanane Balint, 29, had stolen his girlfriend’s Jeep Cherokee outside of a grocery store on the 800 block of Linden Avenue in Carpinteria. When deputies attempted to pull Balint over near La Conchita, he fled at a high rate of speed. Helicopters from both the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office and the Ventura Sheriff’s Office were soon called in to help in the pursuit.

Sugars went on to say that, just as the California Highway Patrol was joining the chase, Balint reportedly veered the Jeep across two southbound lanes and continued off the right side of the road, careening 100 yards down an embankment into heavy brush. The crash, said Sugars, knocked the driver unconscious and, due to damage to the vehicle, authorities had to pull Balint through the car’s rear window. No one else was injured in the incident.

Balint was transported to a nearby hospital and treated for minor injuries, and will be moved to the Santa Barbara County Jail once he’s been medically cleared. He is facing a number of charges including robbery, vehicle theft, “evading with wanton disregard for safety,” driving without a license, and domestic violence. He may also be charged with driving under the influence pending toxicology results.


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