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San Benito
May 28, 2024

Inmate on medical pass walked away from hospital

The sheriff’s office is still actively searching for a 34-year-old inmate from Los Banos who had been on a “medical pass” when he walked away from the hospital, a sheriff’s captain said Wednesday.

Capt. Tony Lamonica of the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office said that on Monday afternoon, the inmate from the San Benito County Jail — David Lopez — had been on a “medical pass” for a “major medical issue” when he walked away from Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital.

Lamonica said the sheriff’s office weighs the level of charges involved with inmates when deciding on medical passes and whether to keep deputies watching over county jail inmates needing medical attention.

“They’re not in our custody, in a sense,” Lamonica said of the medical pass situation.

With a medical pass, there is no one from law enforcement watching over the person or any security assigned by the sheriff’s office.

Frankie Gallagher, head of marketing and public relations for the hospital, said the patient left Hazel Hawkins in the process of being discharged from the hospital.

“As a patient that is not in custody, he has the same rights as every other patient does to leave on their own free will,” Gallagher clarified.

She said any sort of security is the responsibility of the sheriff’s office, which did not request anything related to Lopez.

Lopez was arrested March 22 and transferred to the hospital March 23 for a serious medical issue, the sheriff’s office noted in a statement. He walked away from the hospital three days later, shortly before noon.

Shortly after 1 p.m. Monday, Hollister police alerted the public to police activity in the area of Gabilan and Highland drives. About 20 minutes later, police sent a follow-up message saying the area was clear.

A previous post about the Lopez arrest read as follows:

Lopez had been arrested near Hollister on suspicion of possessing a stolen vehicle, a gun and methamphetamine.

The suspect faces additional charges of possessing burglary tools, a drug pipe and a stun gun.

According to the sheriff’s office announcement, which arrested the man near Union and Southside roads:

At about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, San Benito County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jason Leist observed a vehicle code violation in the area of Union Road at Southside Road in the unincorporated area of San Benito County.  He stopped the Honda that was later confirmed to have been reported stolen out of Dos Palos.

Lopez was arrested during the vehicle enforcement stop.  Lopez was also on post-release community supervision parole. During a search of the vehicle, a suspected methamphetamine pipe, a lower receiver for an AR-15 rifle and an “Airsoft” style pellet gun that was altered to resemble a real firearm were located.

A female passenger was also in the car, and it was later learned the Lopez made criminal threats to her if she were to cooperate with law enforcement during the stop.  Lopez was transported and booked into the San Benito County Jail on the listed charges.

  • Two $100,000 dollar felony warrants out of Merced County
  • 10851 VC  – Vehicle Theft
  • 496 PC – Possession of stolen property
  • 466 PC – Possession of burglary tools
  • 32310(a) PC – Possession of a high capacity magazine
  • PC 12220(a) Possession or transport of machine gun/parts
  • 11364 HS Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • 29805 (a) PC – Felon in possession of a firearm
  • 20150(a) PC – Alter replica firearm
  • 22610 (a) PC – Felon in possession of a “stun gun.”
  • 422 PC  – Criminal Threats

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