According to the California Highway Patrol, a police chase started around 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, on Highway 41 in Fresno, continued through Oakhurst, and proceeded into Yosemite National Parks.
Azar Moore, 34, of Atascadero and Christie Asberry, 38, of Paso Robles were travelling north bound on Highway 41 near Avenue 12 when Fresno police attempted to stop the vehicle after they learned the car had been taken from an impound after previously being reported stolen.
Oakhurst area CHP Lieutenant, Commander Sandra Adams said the suspects, driving a Honda with tinted windows, proceeded to take police on a 40-plus mile chase with the CHP taking lead in the chase around Road 200.
Near Hummingbird Lane, officer Nick Costino deployed spike strips across Highway 41, in an attempt to disable the vehicle, which blew out three tires on the vehicle. At that time the vehicle considerably slowed down but never completely stopped. It was at this time that officers believe Moore switched with Asberry behind the wheel.
The vehicle, with three tires blown-out, continued up and over Deadwood Mountain on Highway 41 between 45 and 50 m.p.h.
All three tires eventually came off the rims and when that happened Moore continued driving north on Highway 41 at speeds of 25 to 35 m.p.h. on the metal rims, throwing sparks from all three rims. Moore continued north past Cedar Valley and Fish Camp, entering the gate to Yosemite.
It wasn't till the rims were totally ground down that the vehicle came to a stop north of Alder Creek, just before the Badger Pass turn-off, roughly 13 miles into the National Parks.
According to Oakhurst CHP Sgt. Ed Greene, the vehicle was quickly surrounded by five CHP units, three Fresno police units, and five park police units, with all officers with drawn weapons at the time.
Asberry exited the drivers side door, surrendering and following the officers orders. However, Moore was uncooperative following the incident and led to a brief stand-off between police.
Moore remained in the vehicle after numerous orders to exit the vehicle. Officers discharged a non-lethal shotgun round in an unsuccessful attempt to break out the driver side window, but persuaded the driver to get out of the vehicle without further incident.
The stand-off lasted for a half hour before Moore exited the vehicle with a crack pipe in his hand. He was handcuffed, searched and arrested.
“He almost caused a half dozen head-on accidents during this pursuit,” Greene said.
Neither suspect was cooperative in giving the officers information as to why they refused to initially stop for police.
Adams said no one was injured and the two suspects were arrested on the scene.
“No one was hurt ... it was pretty much textbook and the officers did a great job not getting themselves or anyone else injured,” Adams said
According to the CHP the female subject was suspected of being the initial driver and somewhere along the line police believe the two suspects switched seats giving control to the male suspect.
An air unit was called into pursuit to help officers pursue the suspect. However, the helicopter unit was forced to abandon the chase because of safety restrictions detailing anything past Road 426 to be a “no fly zone” after dark. The helicopter was in-turn called back to Fresno.
“We called for an air unit, but because of the terrain and because it was night time they discontinued their involvement with the chase,” Adams said.
Moore has been charged with driving under the influence, felony evading, possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamines), being in possession of drug paraphernalia (pipe), possession of marijuana, and being under the influence of a controlled substance.
Asberry was taken to Fresno County, where the chase originally began. Moore will be arraigned Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the Superior Court Sierra Division in Bass Lake before Judge Charles A. Wieland.