Driver in motorhome chase through South Lake Tahoe found incompetent

Kurt Hildebrand

A judge found a motorhome driver, who left a trail of sparks during a police chase through Carson Valley last year, was not competent to stand trial.

Christopher DeBastiani, 43, did not appear in Douglas County District Court on Tuesday, but Attorney Kris Brown agreed that reports from mental health professionals indicated he wouldn’t be able to assist in his defense.

After Prosecutor Ric Casper agreed, District Judge Tod Young found DeBastiani incompetent.

Casper said it is possible he would be filing a motion to require DeBastiani to take medication that would render him competent, and Young set an Oct. 17 court date for that hearing.

“If we are going to involuntarily medicate someone, then we have to have a hearing and call witnesses,” Young said.

DeBastiani was arrested Aug. 26, 2018, in Gardnerville after he drove his motorhome from South Lake Tahoe north on Highway 50 down to Carson City and then turned onto Highway 395 south.

Authorities tried to stop the motorhome using spike strips a couple of times, but DeBastiani continued to drive on rims sending a shower of sparks behind him and cutting a deep groove into Highway 395 from Minden to Gardnerville.

In letters to The Record-Courier, DeBastiani has never denied being the driver, but said that he was fleeing South Lake Tahoe police who knocked on the motorhome without cause.

He said he didn’t see the flashing lights of the patrol vehicles following him.

The motorhome finally came to a stop after running into the Ritchford Stables in Gardnerville. Deputies boarded the vehicle and brought DeBastiani out after a brief struggle.

He is facing charges of eluding and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the case, which has already seen one trial vacated.

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