High-speed quad ride on Auburn trail ends in arrest

State Recreation Area trail off-limits to motorized vehicles
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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It was an unusual, unwanted and, authorities said Monday, illegal four-wheeled visitor on trails reserved for non-motorized use.

An off-road quad-runner bike with two men aboard reached speeds of more than 30 mph Friday on the Robie Point fuel-break trail in the American River canyon near Auburn, according to an Auburn State Recreation Area report.

Early on, the riders were stopped by off-duty Supervising State Parks Ranger Scott Liske and advised to get off the trail. But the riders continued to travel along off-limits trails and were only stopped after crashing into a parks vehicle that was positioned on the path with lights flashing.

One of the riders was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs. The other was cited for dangerous driving.

Liske said that he heard the quad as he and his wife were riding bicycles at about 3 p.m. Friday on Robie Point trail, skirting the canyon east of Auburn.

“It’s a multi-use trail but certainly not for motorized vehicles,” Liske said. “The quad came around a blind corner at 30 mph-plus.”

Liske said he was able to halt the riders and, identifying himself as an out-of-uniform peace officer, advised them the route was not authorized for motorized vehicles and that they needed to turn around and leave the trail at Highway 49.

“With a little negotiating, they did – but they zoomed off at the same speed,” Liske said.

Liske said he continued his bike ride. With mild temperatures, the trail was being  used by several people, including an equestrian, runners and walkers with dogs, he said.

Liske said he again heard the unmistakable sound of the quad engine less than two minutes later and the bike was soon passing him by at a high rate of speed on a blind turn.

“I tried to get them to stop but the driver was not even letting off the gas,” Liske said. “We both jumped out of the way and it flew past without slowing down, heading in the direction of China Bar.”

Liske contacted dispatch and two on-duty rangers worked with him in an attempt to seal off  potential escape routes. As rangers were staging, a horse rider also called in to report the quad riders driving dangerously, he said.

The quad riders were going too fast to avoid the roadblock and rolled off the bike as the vehicle pitched sideway and rolled, Liske said.

“One rebounded off the hood of the truck but no one said they were injured,” Liske said. “We were very lucky.”

The quad struck the front of the ranger truck but did not cause any damage, he said.

Christopher Waldschmitt, 31, of Auburn, was arrested on suspicion of dangerous vehicle operation and being under the influence of drugs. The type of drugs Waldschmitt was suspected of being under the influence of were not disclosed.

Issace Coleman, 43, of Sacramento, is alleged to have been the driver of the vehicle when it was finally stopped, Liske said. Waldschmitt is alleged to have been the driver earlier, he said. Coleman was cited on a dangerous vehicle operation allegation. The quad was registered to Waldschmitt. 

Coincidentally, the nearby Mammoth Bar Off-Highway Vehicle park, off Old Foresthill Road,  was open Friday for quad-runner use. It’s open four days a week in the winter.