A brother of a 22-year-old Anaheim man jailed on suspicion of a drug-fueled crash in downtown Fullerton that left 10 people injured said Monday he was trying to escape gang members who attacked him moments before the crash.
Christopher Jose Solis was driving a Toyota Tacoma that veered onto a sidewalk in the 100 block of West Santa Fe Avenue just before 1:50 a.m. Sunday, ramming three vehicles before striking nine pedestrians and slamming into a tree, said Fullerton police Lt. Jon Radus.
“The guys were beating him up,” Solis’ brother, Jose Barajas, told ABC7. “They tried to yank him out of his car. They surrounded the car. He tried to take off. He hit the first car and the airbags deployed.”
Dozens of people were on the street at the time, in and around restaurants and bars that were about to close for the night, he said. Multiple victims were trapped under the truck when it came to a stop, according to Radus, who said several bystanders helped first responders lift the smoking and badly damaged vehicle to free them.
Solis was allegedly under the influence of an unspecified drug at the time of the crash, according to Radus.
“It was determined after a drug recognition expert did an evaluation that he was under the influence of drugs at the time of the collision and impaired for the purpose of driving,” Radus told ABC7.
Barajas said his brother passed a field sobriety test and had not been drinking or taking drugs.
“What happened is a sad tragedy,” Barajas said. “I feel sorry for all the people. But he was a victim, too. It was an accident.”
Solis’ mother defended her son.
“My son’s not a monster,” Lily Solis told the station. “My heart goes out to the parents and the victims. I pray for their recovery.”
Two of the most seriously injured victims, as well as several others, remained hospitalized on Monday, Radus said. They are all expected to survive, he said, adding that they range in age from 18 to 49. A passenger in the Tacoma was also injured, according to police, who said Solis wasn’t hurt.
Police are continuing to gather evidence to present to prosecutors by Wednesday, the deadline for filing charges against Solis if he has not posted $100,000 bail by then, Radus said.
Anyone with information, including video footage, is encouraged to contact the Fullerton Police Traffic Bureau at (714) 738-5313 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS. Tips can also be submitted at www.p3tips.com/913.