Crime - Sacto 911

21-year-old man arrested after allegedly hitting CHP officer with an SUV while drunk

A California Highway Patrol officer was seriously hurt early Saturday morning in Sutter County when he was hit by an SUV driven by a man who investigators said was driving drunk.

Just after 1 a.m., the officer and his partner had gotten out of their patrol car to direct traffic around a set of malfunctioning railroad crossing gates on Highway 99 north of Live Oak, when the SUV careened around a curve. The SUV was going well above the speed limit, said Sgt. Nelda Banuelos.

One officer was able to get out of the way of the dark gray SUV, but his partner, a 13-year veteran of the CHP, couldn’t, Banuelos said.

After the crash, the man driving the SUV got out and ran off, she said.

The officer who wasn’t hurt was able to chase him down and put him in cuffs, Banuelos said.

Early Saturday afternoon, Lucas Julian Nelson, 21, was booked into the Sutter County Jail on suspicion of resisting arrest and DUI with great bodily injury. His bail was set at $50,000.

The injured officer was flown to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

Banuelos said the Yuba-Sutter unit officer has serious injuries, but his doctors reported Saturday morning that his condition wasn’t deteriorating. His family was at the hospital with him, she said.

The officer’s name hasn’t yet been released. As a precaution, Nelson also was taken to a hospital for evaluation, though Banuelos said he wasn’t hurt.

Banuelos said investigators also have yet to reveal Nelson’s blood alcohol level.

Banuelos said the whole ordeal was frustrating and entirely preventable.

“We do want to have people go out and have a good time, but do it responsibly,” she told The Bee. “There’s so many options nowadays with ride-shares, and things like that that people could use. We need the public’s help so we don’t have these crashes.”

After a lengthy investigation, Highway 99 was reopened to traffic by 8 a.m., the CHP reported.

Ryan Sabalow covers environment, general news and enterprise and investigative stories for McClatchy’s Western newspapers. Before joining The Bee in 2015, he was a reporter at The Auburn Journal, The Redding Record Searchlight and The Indianapolis Star.