ANAHEIM — A suspected drunk driver was chased by witnesses and held for police after he lost control of his car and slammed into a telephone pole, killing his passenger, police said Tuesday.
Juan Carlos Luna Pacheco, 23, of Anaheim, was booked Monday night at the Anaheim jail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and felony drunk driving, police said. Jose Daniel Flores, 45, also of Anaheim, who was riding in the rear seat of the car, was pronounced dead at the scene, a police spokesman said.
The accident occurred about 9:35 p.m. at the intersection of East and Romneya streets. Donald Lewis, 53, was on his patio listening to the radio commentary of the Angels-Royals baseball game.
"I didn't hear a screech, just a solid crash," Lewis said. "When I looked, I saw a car smashed into the telephone pole about 300 feet away (from my house.)"
Lewis said the driver of the gray 1979 Chevrolet Camaro emerged unhurt from the crumpled car.
"He got out of the car, then got back in, back out, and he started walking a little bit," Lewis said. "I thought he was going to sit on the curb. He was staggering, then started walking super-slow away from the accident. He looked like he was trying to get away. I yelled at him, and he started running down (Romneya Street)."
Lewis' 23-year-old son, Jim, chased the man but lost sight of him.
Police arrived a few minutes later and began a search for the missing driver. As a police helicopter lighted up the area with its searchlight, bloodhounds attempted to follow the driver's trail.
Lewis said he then learned about the passenger's death.
"I said, 'Wait a minute! We gotta get this guy.' He was in no shape to run far away."
Lewis said he circled the neatly trimmed shrubbery around the nearby insurance building and noticed a man lying motionless, but awake, among some shrubs.
He called to a police officer, who arrested Luna Pacheco.
Police commended Lewis and his son for helping locate the suspect.
"They stepped in when it was needed or else we would have lost this person," investigator Greg Mattison said.
Lewis, superintendent of the Anaheim Hills Golf Course, said he considered his actions routine.
"It was no big deal," Lewis said. "I was just mad that he ran away."