SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — A Santa Rosa police officer suffered moderate injuries Tuesday afternoon when a hit-and-run driver allegedly forced his patrol car to swerve off a street and into a tree, authorities said.
The crash took place in the 4700 block of Sonoma Highway just before the intersection with Middle Rincon Road around 8 a.m.
Witnesses told police that the officer was traveling eastbound in the number one lane of Sonoma Highway when a white hatchback pulled out quickly from a driveway on the southside of the highway.
Investigators said the white hatchback went right at the patrol vehicle, forcing the officer swerve in an evasive maneuver. The officer’s vehicle careened out of control on to the center median and slammed head-on into a tree.
The driver of the hatchback fled the scene as witnesses rushed to aid the injured officer. He was transported to a local hospital, treated for moderate injuries and released.
His patrol car was totaled as a result of the force of the crash.
A witness said the driver of the hatchback pulled over to the side of Sonoma Highway. She exited her vehicle, appearing to check for any damage. She then swiftly got back in her vehicle and drove away. The driver was described as a female with a thin build, 30-40 years old, with reddish colored hair.
Over an hour later, as officers were conducting their investigation, the suspect arrived back at the scene, driving a white Honda Fit. When asked about the collision, she initially stated that she didn’t have anything to do with it. However, she eventually accepted responsibility and was interviewed by police.
Police identified her as Elizabeth Balchowsky, a 49-year-old resident of Graton. She was arrested for felony hit and run and causing serious injury.