Man charged with stealing Yosemite Park employee vehicle, which he drove off a cliff during chase

El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall.
Tunnel View of El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite National Park.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

A federal grand jury has indicted a Rancho Cucamonga man with theft, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and fleeing police after he allegedly stole a Yosemite National Park employee’s vehicle, then drove it off a cliff during a high-speed chase.

Christian Claustro, 28, was indicted on Thursday in federal court in Fresno, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said in a news release. If convicted, Claustro could face up to a total of 13 years in prison and fines of up to $510,000.

People take pictures in the snow at Yosemite.
Visitors enjoy the snow at Yosemite National Park on Dec. 15, 2022.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

On Dec. 26, 2022, Claustro stole the vehicle of a Yosemite Park employee who had pulled over to remove a bike from the roadway, according to the U.S. Attorney’s news release.

Claustro then led a park ranger on a high-speed chase that continued to the Ferguson Slide bridge, where he drove the wrong way and collided head-on with another motorist, authorities said. Claustro continued until he drove off a cliff, the news release says, plummeting 200 feet to the bottom of a canyon.