Parolee leads police on chase, found hiding in orchard
A Porterville man and a Lindsay woman were arrested Wednesday after they allegedly led a motorcycle officer on a high-speed chase and into an orange orchard.
The pair, identified by police as 43-year-old Darren Fitzwater and 42-year-old Jodi Duncan, was booked at the sheriff’s office on suspicion of felony evading and various other charges.
The incident happened around noon near Avenue 184 and Road 208. Porterville Police Officer Dominic Barteau said a traffic officer attempted to stop a car speeding in the area of Newcomb Street and Pioneer Avenue, but the driver didn’t yield.
Barteau said the driver led the motorcycle officer outside of city limits and into an orange orchard. The driver blew his car's front tire but continuted to evade officers and reportedly drove his car into the orchard, ending the vehicle pursuit. The Sheriff’s Department found the suspect’s car after he ditched it and officers then set up a perimeter around the orchard.
“They sent a K9 and officers to search the orchards and found him,” Barteau said, adding the suspect, later identified as Fitzwater, was found nearly two hours later hiding underneath an orange tree.
Fitzwater, a parolee, was arrested and later booked into jail.
Barteau said after the pursuit began, Fitzwater dropped off a woman who was later located by another officer.
“She was contacted with a pretty substantial amount of methamphetamine in her purse, some scales and drug sales paraphernalia,” Barteau said.
Duncan, who also had two misdemeanor traffic warrants for her arrest, was found on foot at Pioneer Avenue and Lotas Street and taken into custody.
Barteau said about 10 police units responded to the incident, including sheriff’s deputies.