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Wrong-way driver on Cuesta Grade pepper-sprayed after leading CHP on Hwy 101 chase

A large flatbed truck was spotted by California Highway Patrol traveling the wrong way on the Cuesta Grade on Saturday night, leading to a long pursuit and eventual use of a taser on the driver.

The driver, later identified as Antonio Vega Torres Jr., 43, of Lompoc, was traveling southbound on Highway 101 north in a three-axle, flatbed truck, around 10:35 p.m., according to a California Highway Patrol news release.

The CHP officer sped ahead of Torres Jr. and turned around at the Monterey Street exit, unsuccessfully attempting to break traffic and stop the wrong-way driver, the release said.

Torres Jr. continued driving southbound in the northbound lanes until reaching the bottom of the Grade, at which point he used a turn-through to correct his orientation, and continued traveling southbound, this time in the southbound lane.

CHP attempted to stop Torres Jr. for a second time. When he did not yield, CHP said a pursuit began, with the driver traveling at about 10 miles per hour or slower. Spike strips were used several times, but failed to stop the truck, according to the release.

Torres Jr. then turned around at Laetitia Vineyards in Arroyo Grande, and traveled north on Highway 101, eventually stopping near the Spyglass Drive exit in Pismo Beach due to front tires damaged by the spike strips, the release said.

Torres Jr. refused to exit the cab of the truck and CHP officers sprayed pepper spray in the cab to get him to leave the truck.

After the spray was used, Torres Jr. left the cab of the truck holding pruning shears and refusing to comply with law enforcement, according to the release.

CHP then used a Taser on Torres Jr. and he was taken into custody. Later it was discovered the truck was stolen, CHP said.

After being evaluated at the hospital, Torres Jr. was found to be under the influence of a drug and booked at the San Luis Obispo County Jail, according to the release.