FEB 19, 1977
I go to work, with a start time of 1300 hours. One other officer and I work the "Overlap" shift out of the Oceanside California Highway Patrol Office. We get our uniforms on and are ready to be driving out at 1300, where the Officers of the regular shifts [ 1400, 2200, and 0600] have Briefing( Sgt hands out papers to you, tells you what is going on) -- and are driving out at 45 minutes later.
As I am getting my uniform on, a Sergeant walks up to me and says, "Dave, you are going to be the Afternoon Officer-in-Charge today --we are having a Staff Meeting" MEANS-- All the Sergeants, the two two Lieutenants , and the Captain are in a meeting. Everything that happens today is your responsibility.
I drive out in my 1996 Chev Caprice Patrol car, it is raining. As I get on I-5 south, there is a high speed motorcycle (MC) using the fast two lanes. I give chase ( Not advised in rain) . The MCs' speed is 90 mph.
The MC 's rider stops in the center divider. It is man. He is asked for a driver's license. Ne bluntly says,"It is suspended".
AS I am writing the citation, Dispatch advises there is a pursuit coming south from San Juan Capistrano (Oh, Joy...anything that goes wrong...it is YOUR fault)
Since MC rider has no license, I have to impound the MC. I call a tow, write a storage form, tow truck comes, and takes rider and MC off I-5.
Now, Dispatch advises that the pursuit coming south went off in San Clemente -- BUT-- there is another one coming south on I-15 from Temecula. I start to go to my assigned Beat Area south of me on I-5. I do not get but about four miles, and Dispatch advises that pursuit is now coming west on State Route 78.
I turn back to north. Following the radio traffic, I intend to try to block the pursued car as it comes to the west end of Highway 78 over
I-5. What occurs then is from a news video, taken from a news helicopter.
At the crash, we (There were two officers from the chase and a third that arrived after. Meanwhile, it had stopped raining, and I took off my yellow rain slicker. I would find out later that the Media was looking all over for the officer in a rain coat to get a statement.
We find that the ONLY one seriously hurt is the man that we had been pursuing. He was not seat belted, and had been propelled onto the rear window ledge. We would find out later that he had not been drinking at all, but was a mental case. He lived in Palm Desert, California. His wife had died 4 days before. He had gone out the next day and bought this car he was driving. On this this day, he had gone into a bank in Palm Desert. The staff felt that he was acting suspiciously and called Riverside County Sheriff. When the Deputy walked in, our suspect ran to his new car and fled, with the deputy pursuing.
The man from the white Jeep was walking and talking, but swore he had been going south.
The man from the pickup was not hurt.
The young lady from the maroon car was on the phone and did not get out. She was not hurt.
Our Public Affairs Officer, Rick Sablan, ran up to me after coming to the site, and said,"Don't say nothing to the news, Dave--They have you on film".
Later--all the Sergeants, the Lieutenants and the Captain came to the scene. We were about an hour into the investigation, and one Lieutenant came to me and said, " Go Home Dave--We will see you tomorrow."
For four days, the Media camped in front of the office, hoping to interview me. A lieutenant apprehended one perusing out "Picture Board" , trying to see what I looked like, and had him removed from the building.
The ONLY one who supported me was the Border Division Public Affairs Officer, Phil Konstantine. He stated that "I know Officer Hollenbeck, and I now he follows policy and took appropriate action".
EVERYONE else had an "I'd Uh"
One Sergeant declared, "When I saw him coming, I'd uh rammed him from the side". (PROBLEM-Center barrier ends there and he would have been pushed into opposing traffic--then its MY fault)
Another officer said, " I'd uh broke his window and pulled him out". ( PROBLEM--He weighed 240 pounds. Years before, I had tried to pull out a 120 pound man on I-5 in San Diego. He gripped the steering when, hit the gas and dragged me a hundred yards)
The wife of the man in the White Jeep tried to sue. It got to the first hearing. After both parties had testified, the judge asked the plaintiff's attorney, "What can you show me that the officer DID to cause this crash?" The attorney could not point to anything. The judge dismissed it
About three weeks after the crash, PAO Rick Sablan caught me at my patrol car just before I went out on the road. He says, "The Media is still asking for something from you about that pursuit and crash."
I told him," Well, the Oceanside Police has not been here to interrogate me and neither has the San Diego Sheriff o District Attorney, or the FBI ( Civil Rights violation) . The Department ( CHP) has not even talked to me about it. So, I guess I did everything right".