Wanted man causes major injury wreck on I-80

Image: Google Maps

Image: Google Maps

A man wanted for weapons violations and kidnapping was arrested in Berkeley on Saturday night after crashing into several vehicles on the highway and sending two people to the hospital.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the agency received a call shortly before 7 p.m. about a “reckless driver in a small red vehicle” on Interstate 80 near Gilman Street in Berkeley. 

Minutes later, dispatchers began receiving calls that the same vehicle, a 1994 Mazda, was involved in a traffic collision involving four other vehicles. Two people were taken by ambulance to the hospital, including one with major injuries, according to a notice released by the CHP on Nixle just before 10:50 p.m.

According to Berkeley radio scanner traffic, the accident took place just north of Gilman Street on eastbound Interstate 80. Berkeley paramedics were dispatched to the scene.

According to Officer Sean Wilkenfeld, spokesman for the Oakland-area CHP, the Mazda’s driver, 50-year-old Robert Blackwell of Oakland, tried to flee the scene on foot “and jumped off of the elevated portion” of the freeway.

An off-duty Concord Police officer, who saw the driver flee, “was able to stop Blackwell after he landed on the city streets below.”

Blackwell was arrested by CHP officers on suspicion of felony hit and run, felony DUI causing injury, as well as driving without a license. The exact location of his arrest was not immediately available. [Update, June 15: Wilkenfeld said Blackwell was arrested beneath the overpass near the Berkeley-Albany border. The exact location was not available. According to unconfirmed scanner traffic, Berkeley paramedics were dispatched to Buchanan Street under the freeway shortly after 7 p.m. for a man who had jumped from the overpass.]

Blackwell also had two warrants for his arrest, one for weapons violations and the second for kidnapping.

He sustained major injuries as a result of the incident and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, according to the CHP.

Learn more about Nixle, and how to sign up here. Berkeleyside will update this story if more information becomes available.

Authorities seek man after Berkeley police chase (05.08.14)
Breaking: CHP chase from Oakland ends in South Berkeley (01.31.14)

[Correction: The driver in this case was described by authorities as a felon due to the felony warrants for his arrest. But, according to the CHP, he has not been convicted of a felony. The story has been corrected to reflect this.]

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  • Woolsey

    Berkeleyside never sleeps…

  • Guest

    He’s an alleged felon until convicted of a felony. Are there priors beyond the warrants and last night’s festivities?

  • Chris J

    Given how stupid these criminals are, they might as well announce their intentions and location on Facebook to make it incrementally easier to catch them.

  • emraguso

    Good question. I believe — due to the officer’s choice to describe him as a felon, he would have been previously convicted, but I will try to confirm this. Sorry this was left out.

  • Tasersaurus

    I’m trying to ascertain the facts, nothing more. He might be even more dangerous than the report here reveals.

  • emraguso

    I followed up with the CHP and was told he was described as a wanted felon because he has those felony warrants for his arrest. I don’t think that squares with my understanding of the word though as — to me and by the dictionary — a felon is someone who has been convicted. I will correct the story and make a note of that.

  • Constitutional republic

    Not very patriotic of you to assume someone is guilty until proven innocent…

  • On re-reading it, might be that his crimes are felonies, “felony hit and run, felony DUI causing injury” and he has warrants for his arrest, but he might not be a convicted felon.

    It does sound like he’s working on it.


  • guest

    In court, someone is (and should be) assumed innocent until proven guilty.

    But people who have common sense and who are not on a jury care more about the innocent people who he injured than about making fine verbal distinctions to protect someone who drove erratically, was in a crash, tried to flee the scene on foot, jumped off the elevated freeway, was arrested on suspicion of felony hit and run, and has warrants for previous felonies.

  • berkeleyan

    We MUST maintain the attitude of “innocent until proven guilty” within our society at large.
    Look: you and I know nothing about this guy beyond what we read in the news. Media is always vulnerable to manipluation.
    Honestly, this guy could easily be guiltyi, the story is most likely completely factual. But the principle is desperately important.

  • guest

    If you really believed he was innocent until proven guilty, you would be willing to invite this guy to your house for dinner. I don’t think you would really be as willing to invite him as you are to invite someone who have never been caught by the police in the middle of a felony.

    The principle of “innocent until proven guilty” is important during trials, to prevent innocent people from being convicted.

    It is has never been maintained in our society at large. Do you claim that you would invite him to dinner?

  • berkeleyan

    You went too far to prove your point.
    We are having a dicussion: the person is unknown and rhetorical to both of us.
    There are plenty of innocent people in out society who I would not like to have to dinner.
    The point is: to call someone a felon who has not been convicted is a dangerous line to cross.

  • guest

    Then consider this hypothetical question. You are walking in a deserted neighborhood late at night, and you reach a place where you can continue on either one of two streets. You learn that this person, who has been accused of multiple felonies but never brought to trial, is on one of the streets, and someone who has never been accused of a felony is on the other street.

    Would you walk on the street where this person is or on the other street?

    If you really believed that someone was innocent until proven guilty, you would be equally likely to walk on either street. You would consider both people completely innocent.

    Innocent until proven guilty is an invaluable principle at trials, but no one can maintain it in real life.

  • berkeleyan

    It’s not about the belief: it’s about the attitude, and the practices that result from that attitude.
    It is, to be perfectly clear, about the words that are used.
    This is a founding principle of our country, and very important in American culture: a culture that uniquely around the world is CHOSEN.

  • guest

    So what is your attitude? In the situation I described, would you have the same attitude toward the two people? I don’t believe you would.

    It is a founding principle of our country that, when people are tried for crimes, they are innocent until proven guilty. No one has denied that principle.

  • berkeleyan

    I would, to answer your question, be equally courteous to both strangers.

  • guest

    To repeat the question, which has nothing to do with being courteous:

    You have the choice of walking on two deserted streets late at night. You learn that a person who has been accused of multiple felonies but never brought to trial, is on one of the streets, and someone who has never been accused of a felony is on the other street. Which street would you walk on?

    If you would really be equally likely to walk on either street, then you are one in a million. Somehow, you missed out on the impulses that evolution has given us to help us survive.

  • berkeleyan

    We are both replying to a thread which began:

    “He’s an alleged felon until convicted of a felony. Are there priors beyond the warrants and last night’s festivities?”

    This is the issue at hand: do we call someone a felon who has not been convicted of a crime?
    If you would not do so, we have no disagreement.
    I know that you would like to create many hypothetical situations to “catch me out” in hypocrisy, but I would like to stay on the subject, which I feel is extremely pertinent.

  • Felipe Ravono

    No. That’s why those folks are not the folks determining, guilt-innocence and sentencing.

  • Felipe Ravono

    This is comparing apples and oranges. My decision as to whom to invite to dinner and which street to walk on has no bearing on legal guilt on innocence. This is a ridiculous discussion and I’m outta here! ……….