YUCCA VALLEY (CBSLA) – A man who allegedly kidnapped a mother and her two young children Thursday afternoon – then lead authorities on a pursuit through Riverside County — was captured with the assistance of two observant animal control officers.
The incident began at around 2 p.m. when two officers with Riverside County Department of Animal Services driving east along the 10 Freeway near Cabazon noticed a distressed woman waving at them from the back of an SUV.
The woman had her two children – a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old — in the vehicle as well, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department reports.
The officers, Lt. Luis Rosa and Sgt. Miguel Hernandez, followed behind the SUV as they called 911, according to animal services spokesman John Welsh. The car was driving erratically, and at one point, pulled off at Haugen-Lehmann Way. However, it then got back on the eastbound freeway before jumping north onto State Route, Welsh said.
Responding sheriff’s deputies eventually caught up to the SUV and tried to pull it over. The suspect, later identified as 24-year-old Joel Valencia of Bloomington, refused to stop and a chase ensued into Yucca Valley.
Valencia exited Highway 62 and came to a stop near the intersection of Deer Trail and Onaga Trail roads.
He safely surrendered and was arrested at around 3 p.m., the sheriff’s department said. The woman and her children were unhurt.
Deputies learned that the victim had willingly gotten into the SUV with Valencia under the assumption he was going to give them a ride to her Bloomington home. The victim’s relationship to Valencia was not confirmed.
Valencia was booked on charges of kidnapping and failure to yield.