High-speed chase ends with arrest of wanted man

A wanted felon was arrested Sunday night, July 21 after he led deputies on a high-speed chase in the Trinidad area.

Joseph Robert Velenti

Joseph Robert Velenti

The incident began at about 11:40 p.m. when deputies parked near Gipson Drive heard and saw a green 2000 Jeep Cherokee speeding northbound on Stagecoach Road.

The vehicle made a turn onto Gipson Drive in front of the two deputies in marked patrol cars. The driver of the Jeep almost lost control while sliding across the roadway. One of the deputies conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle for wreckless driving. The Jeep pulled off the roadway and yielded to the deputy.

When the deputy approached the Jeep, the driver reved ithe Jeep’s engine, spun its tires and drove off at a high rate of speed.

The deputy initiated a pursuit and was joined by the other deputy. The deputies pursued the Jeep, which traveled westbound on Gipson Road, then southbound on Stagecoach Road. They pursued the Jeep on several roads in the Trinidad area.

During the pursuit the Jeep ran through stop signs and traveled at high rates of speed until it entered onto U.S. Highway 101 southbound.

On the highway the Jeep reached speeds of 90 mph, until it suddenly slowed to 5 mph, at which time it crossed the highway and  then began traveling north on U.S. Highway  101.  Deputies continued pursuing the Jeep which turned into the Hidden Creek Campground, located east of the main Trinidad overpass, where it slowed to a stop. The driver attempted to run from the vehicle; however, the deputies were able to catch him and take him into custody. During the drivers arrest, he resisted the deputies efforts to handcuff him. The passenger, a 27-year-old female, complied with the deputies and was temporarily detained.

A search of the Jeep revealed two illegal double edged knives, which were seized. The driver, Joseph Robert Velenti, 33, from Eureka was arrested on suspicion of felony evasion of a peace officer, driving on a suspended license, possession of illegal weapons, possession of a syringe and violation of probation. Velenti was also wanted on six outstanding arrest warrants – two for felonies, one for assaulting a police officer, one for terrorist threats, and four misdemeanor warrants, two for driving under the influence, one for disturbing the peace and one for assault and battery.

Valenti was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where his bail was set at $190,000.

The female passenger was determined to not have committed any crimes and was released at the scene.