Three 150 mph San Jacinto valley pursuits in one night lead to man’s arrest

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. — A Vista man who allegedly led officers on three dangerous, high-speed pursuits in the Hemet/San Jacinto valley in one night and later fled the scene of a solo-vehicle, high-speed crash in Temecula was apprehended, according to California Highway Patrol; who said the man hit speeds in excess of 150 mph while fleeing from officers.

At the time of his arrest the suspect, Augustin Lerma III, 21, had a felony warrant for his arrest for failing to appear in court after he was arrested for reckless driving in Indio. In that incident, he was driving in excess of 150 mph on I-10.

“Additionally, Lerma’s driving status is suspended for, you guessed it, driving in excess of 100 mph,” CHP said after the reckless driver’s recent arrest.

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CHP has since said Lerma “was pursued by San Gorgonio Pass CHP officers on three separate occasions within one night.”

“In each pursuit he drove his Dodge Charger extremely reckless, rapidly reaching speeds up to 150 mph, running stop signs, and unsafely passing,” CHP continued.

“Pursuing CHP officers immediately recognized the risk of Lerma causing great bodily injury and/or death to himself or an innocent motorist and quickly terminated each pursuit,” said CHP.

Lerma was apprehended after trying to demand CHP officers return various personal items he left inside his vehicle when he fled the scene of a solo vehicle crash in Temecula. By that time all area agencies had been notified regarding Lerma’s recent criminal activities and he was immediately taken into custody on a felony warrant for his arrest. CHP photo

During their investigations into the trio of pursuits, San Gorgonio Pass Area investigators and pursuing officers positively identified Lerma as the evading driver.

While obtaining a warrant for Lerma’s arrest, CHP officers learned he had been involved in a hit and run accident in Temecula, when he crashed his Charger at high speed into a guardrail and construction equipment.

“This time, Lerma fled the scene on foot,” said CHP; adding, “Nonetheless, San Gorgonio Pass officers responded and seized his crashed vehicle with a court-ordered 30-day impound for felony evading.”

On Feb 5, as San Gorgonio Pass officers were preparing to arrest Lerma at his Vista residence, Lerma stormed into a neighboring CHP office “…and demanded the return of his wallet with identifying information that he left in his vehicle when he fled,” CHP described.

“By this time, San Gorgonio Pass CHP had already notified all surrounding CHP Areas and local law enforcement agencies of Lerma’s crime spree, his need for speed, and felony wants. He was immediately detained and San Gorgonio Pass officers responded for his arrest,” said CHP.

“This just goes to show, it never pays to run from the police,” CHP said after Lerma’s arrest; adding, “Instead of endangering innocent lives and your own, just pull over and be held accountable for your actions.” CHP photo

Lerma was booked into Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning on suspicion of three counts of reckless evading without regard for public safety, all felonies. He was also charged with one count of driving on a suspended license.

Temecula deputies are also planning to file hit-and-run charges for the collision, according to CHP.

Online jail records indicate Lerma was released from custody the day after his arrest after posting $100,000 bail or bond. 


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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.

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