Resident arrested in high-speed chase

COSTA MESA — A Costa Mesa man was hospitalized in Northern California after he fought off a police K-9 dog that chased him into a forest while evading police, California Highway Patrol officials said Friday.

Garrett Frank Merlino, 46, was arrested Aug. 29 in Laytonville after allegedly leading police on a high-speed pursuit on northbound Highway 101 in Mendocino County.

According to a recount of the incident by the CHP, a Mendocino County sheriff's deputy tried to pull Merlino over on the highway because he was driving too slowly.

Merlino didn't stop, and the CHP took over the pursuit, authorities said.

Police threw a spike strip onto the road about 11 miles into the chase, blowing out the two right tires on his Toyota pick-up.

Police said Merlino then accelerated from 50 mph to 80 mph on the deflated tires.

CHP officers performed what is called "a PIT maneuver," meaning a vehicle bumped the rear of his truck, forcing it to spin out and change directions, usually stopping in the process.

Merlino allegedly fled into the forest and officers released a K-9 unit to go after him.

The dog caught up to him and attacked, but Merlino got away after hitting it with a piece of wood, authorities said.

The suspect was caught on the side of the road hours later and taken to a local hospital and treated for his wounds.

He was arrested on suspicion of recklessly evading police and driving drunk.

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