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Man is accused of hit and run

Resident arrested at hospital after being rescued from the ocean, police say. Suspect also faces DUI charge.

July 11, 2009|By Joseph Serna

A Costa Mesa man is scheduled to be in court Tuesday on accusations that he drunkenly hit a pedestrian while driving in Newport Beach then tried to escape the scene by ditching his car and swimming hundreds of yards into the ocean.

James Arlen Peterson, 32, was arrested Friday afternoon at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, where paramedics had taken him after his attempt at escaping authorities nearly killed him, officials said.

Police said Peterson was southbound in the 100 block of 30th Street when he hit a female pedestrian in his Chevy Monte Carlo and fled the scene. The woman suffered moderate injuries to her knee, hip and elbow, said Lt. Rob Morton.

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The Eagle helicopter, shared by Costa Mesa and Newport Beach police, spotted the vehicle abandoned at the dead end of 29th Street facing the beach. While units scoured the area, helicopter commander Tim Starn noticed a swimmer in distress about 400 yards off the end of the 28th Street jetty. Police said it was Peterson. He was fully clothed with his shoes on and in distress, periodically dipping under the water, police said.

A quick call to lifeguards and Peterson was plucked out of the water. Lifeguard Battalion Chief Jim Turner said the man appeared exhausted. Police said he was making suicidal comments. He was taken to the hospital and treated, then arrested.

Police booked Peterson on suspicion of felony DUI and hit and run.


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