Ricardo Sanchez | Credit: SB Sheriff’s Office

Judge Brian Hill on Tuesday sentenced 38-year-old Ricardo Sanchez to 19 years and four months in prison after he led police on a high-speed chase through the streets of downtown Santa Barbara that ended in a violent collision that seriously injured an elderly woman and her 10-month-old grandchild.

“This case illustrates a series of horrific criminal choices made by the defendant that led to this terrifying and predictable conclusion,” said District Attorney Joyce Dudley. Her office had sought the maximum sentence of 28 years and four months. The victims, Dudley said, have “mostly” recovered from their injuries.

The incident took place January 17, 2019, at around 11:45 a.m. Detectives had tried arresting Sanchez, who was on felony probation at the time, on new drug charges when he jumped in his car. As officers drew their guns and ordered him out, Sanchez backed into a parked police car then drove directly at a female detective who narrowly jumped out of the way. 

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Sanchez then led police on a fast and winding chase through the city, bottoming out at several intersections and running multiple stop signs. As he blasted through a red light at the intersection of Victoria and Santa Barbara streets, Sanchez collided with another car and was sent careening onto the sidewalk where a woman was waiting with her grandchild in a stroller for the light to change. 

The grandmother suffered multiple fractures and contusions while the infant suffered a broken rib, contusions, and brain bleeding.

Sanchez fled the scene on foot but was apprehended a few blocks away hiding under a porch. He was found in possession of bear spray, .22 caliber ammunition, and 6.9 ounces of methamphetamine.

Sanchez pleaded guilty to numerous felony counts and allegations, including assault with a deadly weapon (an automobile) on a peace officer, driving while under the influence of a controlled substance causing injury, evading peace officers in a motor vehicle with reckless disregard, fleeing the scene of a collision causing injury, and possession of methamphetamine for sale.

Sanchez also admitted to the enhancements of personally inflicting great bodily injury, inflicting injury upon multiple victims while driving under the influence, having multiple prior DUI convictions, and having a prior conviction for a previous serious/violent felony, as well as having a prior strike conviction.

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