Here at Schmuck of the Week headquarters, we've heard all kinds of excuses for shmucky behavior -- enough to know the difference between ones that are desperately lame and desperately inspired. We tend to think Bridgette Sandoval's claim that her part in a crazy police chase was fueled by forcible injections of meth and heroin qualify as the latter. Photos, video and a police report below.
On January 15, according to the arrest affidavit, a trooper stopped in a center median of Interstate 70 just east of Georgetown received a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) for a dark gray BMW sedan stolen in Silverthorne -- and a few minutes before 10 a.m., he spotted a vehicle matching the description and began to follow it and a second gray vehicle, this one a Chevrolet Impala, that seemed to be following directly behind it.
The trooper admits to having had a difficult time keeping up, and it's understandable given that speeds of the two cars ahead of him reached approximately 110 miles per hour. Adding to the complication: After a second trooper joined the pursuit, the Chevy began zooming in front of him and weaving back and forth, essentially running interference for the BMW.
At a certain point, orders were given to discontinue the chase because of the danger it was presenting to other drivers. But that didn't mean the pace cars allowed their rate of travel to flag. The Chevy was observed swerving onto the right shoulder of the highway at around 100 MPH and nearly wiping out as it passed eastbound vehicles.
Clearly, it was only a matter of time before the Impala crashed -- and the big moment came near the Denver West exit on I-70. However, the woman was able to get out of the car and head to a nearby office complex at 1707 Cole Boulevard. By the time the trooper got to the building, a fire alarm was going off and people were exiting.
Witnesses told officers they saw a woman with dark hair run inside after the accident, and before long, Sandoval had been taken into custody, despite an energetic attempt to disguise herself. She found a pair of coveralls, a broom, a dustpan and an apron and was posing as a janitor.
Turns out the Chevy had been stolen from a dealership in Waco, Texas, the previous month.
Before long, Sandoval was transported to St. Anthony Central Hospital, and after being advised of her rights, she began to sing...and her chosen aria was quite memorable. The trooper describes her as being very upset and talking quickly as she said, "I know I am on drugs now." She added that she had been forced to take said narcotics-- she mentioned meth and heroin -- by a number of people over the previous four days, including an injection that very morning.
Continue for more about Bridgette Sandoval's schmuckification, including booking photos, a video and the arrest affidavit. Her orders? Sandoval said an unnamed person "put me in a car and told me to drive...run and don't stop."
Sandoval wouldn't say why these individuals were doing such terrible things to her, although she mentioned that she'd been burned in the chest by a cigarette. She also said she wanted her blood drawn, presumably to prove that she was under the influence -- as if that alone would prove she was telling the truth.
With Sandoval in custody, the search continued for the man in the BMW -- and a little over a week later, according to KWTX-TV, police got a tip that the vehicle was in Moody, Texas. The gray sedan had been spray-painted black and its BMW insignia was no longer in place, but cops felt certain it was the same car, in part because it showed body damage from the Colorado chase.
A couple of days of investigating later, police grabbed a man they initially thought was named Joe Ryan Vela. But that moniker turned out to be a pseudonym for Christopher Villa, who reportedly had a "laundry list" of priors.
Did he use a needle to make Sandoval do his bidding? Or was she a willing accomplice who handled the hypodermic herself? Well, she was arrested on suspicion of aggravated motor vehicle theft, vehicular eluding, criminal impersonation, reckless driving and theft, which gives you an idea of where the police are leaning.
Schmuckiness hasn't been added to Sandoval's charges yet, but there's always that possibility.
Look below to see mug shots of Sandoval and Villa, a KWTX report broadcast before Villa's capture, and Sandoval's police report.
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More from our Schmuck of the Week archive: "Philip Brown's schmucky idea of a break-in target -- a sheriff's substation."