Vehicular Tantrum On Plaza Causes Multiple Accidents, Injury – October 21, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

City of Arcata




PLAZA – On Sunday, October 21, 2012, at approximately 3 p.m., the Arcata Police Department Dispatch Center began to receive multiple 911 calls regarding a subject in a white van causing multiple vehicle collisions in the area of the Arcata Plaza.  Officers responded to attempt to stop the van.  While officers were responding, they were notified that the driver had stopped behind a business at 11th and F streets.  He was reported to be in a physical altercation with people who were attempting to restrain and hold him for the Police.


Gabriel Brugger

The male driver fled as officers arrived.  He was located in the 1000 block of G Street where he was taken into custody following a lengthy struggle with officers.  APD officers were assisted by officers from the Humboldt State University Police Department and deputies from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

As this was occurring, APD was advised of an injured female pedestrian in the 800 block of H Street.  APD officers contacted a female who identified herself as the owner of one of the vehicles struck by the van.  She was injured when her vehicle was struck, struck her and she was thrown to the ground.  The 55-year old-female Arcata resident sustained a minor leg injury.  She was treated and released from the scene by Arcata Ambulance.

The investigation determined that the driver had become involved in a domestic dispute at a bar near the Arcata Plaza.  In leaving the scene of that dispute, he collided with a number of vehicles.  One of those collisions caused injuries.  He drove recklessly through the downtown area and then fled when officers attempted to detain him.  He was taken into custody following a lengthy struggle with Officers.  Alcohol is believed to be a factor. 

The driver, 26-year-old Gabriel Brugger of Capitola was transported to Mad River Community Hospital by ambulance for evaluation prior to booking. He was then booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for Reckless Driving, Fleeing The Scene of a Vehicle Accident, and Fleeing The Scene of an Injury Accident.  He was held in custody.

People with information regarding this investigation are encouraged to contact the Arcata Police Department at (707) 822-2428.

An update from a witness:

“About 3:30ish, some crazy traveler-type in a white van, parked on the Plaza’s west side facing McKinley, got into an argument with another traveler in a different white van (so said the traveler girl whose things drove away with crazy guy).

“Crazy person then proceeded to back out of his parking slot full speed with tires squealing and smoke billowing. He then rearended a car parked in front of Belle Starr. The woman who had just gotten out of the that car, was luckily on the sidewalk, but unluckily attempting to get something out of the passenger side of her car, the impact knocked her car sideways and she fell, hurting her leg.

“The van, meanwhile, continued to try to turn NORTH on H st, slamming into the car parked behind the unfortunate woman’s. Crazy man then turned EAST on Ninth street, wrong way again, tires still smoking and squealing, hit another traveler’s purple striped van, ran through Ninth and G and headed down past the fire station.

“A cadre of lay-abouts took off chasing and yelling at the van, the Plaza came alive with them! I, and my friend, stayed with the unfortunate woman, got her a chair and water and waited with some other women who had witnessed the whole thing.

“We were able to get bits of info from the police. It seems that they caught up to him at Arcata Speedwash [at 11th and F streets] where he got into a fight with someone there. We were on it by this time and decided to walk that direction.

“We got as far as G Street, where we saw numerous law enforcement officers in front of the Arcata Theater. They had crazy man down on the sidewalk. They took him away in an ambulance, his was van still at the laundromat being eyed closely by the police.

“The thing that surprised me most about all of this was the little network of indigents, they were running around in small groups all talking to each other and on cell phones, just jacked up. Although, to be fair, my friend and I were kind of doing the same thing. It was pretty bizarro.”