SANTA MARIA – Not much is left of a Santa Maria Police cruiser after it was wrapped around a tree early Sunday morning.
The powerful impact nearly split the squad car in two stopping just short of the officer sitting behind the wheel.
"That car is the worst police traffic collision I have seen here at this police department in 35 years", says SMPD Chief Dan Macagni.
Macagni says Officer Damon Badnell was responding to a call for help from another officer on foot chasing a burglary suspect in the north end of town.
"It had just rained, the roads were slick and for unknown reasons he lost control of the car at Main and Broadway", Macagni says.
Officer Badnell is being treated for broken bones at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital where doctors are optimistic about his recovery.
A three year veteran of the Santa Maria Police Department, Damon Badnell is a husband and father who grew up in the area and was just awarded by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for making the most DUI arrests in the city.
"It's unbelievable he's alive and survived this crash", adds Chief Macagni.
In a separate incident earlier that same Sunday morning, Summer Ramirez and her family were awoken by the sound of a suspected stolen car crashing into the first grade classroom at St. Mary's school in Santa Maria.
"If it had happened during the day time it could have killed a bunch of children", Ramirez says holding her young daughter.
It was a dramatic end to a high speed police chase that began in Pismo Beach after a report of a stolen car in Shell Beach.
"Grateful that since 1938 nothing like this has ever happened at the school", says St. Mary's principal Carmen Vadillo, "so I guess once every 72 years isn't such a bad record."
Insurance is expected to cover the cost of repairing the school classroom.
But cash-strapped St. Mary's will have to scrape up the $2,500 deductible and then get the green light from the city to have the work done in time for the start of school next month.
20 year old Marcus Lee Williams was arrested after the high speed chase and booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail with bail set at $25,000.
Thursday, May 23 2013 1:29 AM EDT2013-05-23 05:29:02 GMT
ATASCADERO, Calif. - Atascadero Police found a body on the 4300 block of Tranquilla Avenue on Wednesday night, and they say it might have been a suspicious death. Atascadero Police responded to a reportMore >>
ATASCADERO, Calif. - Atascadero Police found a body on the 4300 block of Tranquilla Avenue on Wednesday night, and they say it might have been a suspicious death.More >>
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:40 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:40:52 GMT
SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The Santa Maria Ford Dealership is under fire after customers say they lure in with flyers promising they had won a prize but when they got to the dealership, they never got it.More >>
Customer after customer said they were told they were winners for successfully matching three symbols on this flyer but the dealership says those prizes never came.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:25 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:25:16 GMT
SANTA MARIA - When Santa Barbara Police released dash cam video to the local media of a traffic stop back in October 2011, it was from a pilot device installed in the patrol car of Officer Aaron Tudor. TheMore >>
Nearly 30 patrol cars expected to be equipped with video-audio recording devices by end of the week.More >>
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:24 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:24:25 GMT
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif- Arroyo Grande and Atascadero will join four other cities in San Luis Obispo County in establishing a Tourism and Business Improvement District, now all but one city in theMore >>
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif- Arroyo Grande and Atascadero will join four other cities in San Luis Obispo County in establishing a Tourism and Business Improvement District, now all but one city in the county has one.More >>