Police: Man arrested after hitting 4 vehicles, stealing officer's phone

Published: Monday, June 18 2012 2:54 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Police described it as a case of a man who "horribly panicked."

Sunday, officers arrested a man who rear-ended a vehicle near 1100 West and North Temple, pushing the SUV into two other vehicles. The men fled that scene only to hit another parked car at 1025 W. Indiana Ave., causing major damage, said Salt Lake police detective Mike Hamideh.

The man fled that scene in his Pathfinder, and minutes later got into a third accident, hitting yet another vehicle at the intersection of Redwood Road and California Avenue.

The Pathfinder again fled, but only made it to 2100 South and 3200 West before bursting into flames, Hamideh said.

The driver got out of his vehicle and ran, only to return to the scene after police arrived. The man tried to claim someone had taken his vehicle and caused all the accidents, Hamideh said. While looking at his damaged SUV, the man spotted a cell phone inside the vehicle. Believing it was his, he grabbed it to try and hide the fact he had been the one driving the Pathfinder, according to the detective.

The phone, however, belonged to a Salt Lake police officer who had dropped it while inspecting the burned vehicle. When he called his cell phone in order to find it, the phone rang in the man's pocket.

Jessie Ambriz, 25, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of multiple counts of hit and run, obstruction of justice and theft.

Hamideh said the man did not show any signs of impairment.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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