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Man on Highway 49 snarls traffic, ends up in jail

A man who reportedly started out panhandling on the side of the road and then began jumping in and out of traffic caused an even bigger traffic jam when he began running across the highway Monday afternoon.

Curtis John Mamula, 33, eventually was arrested and ended up booked into Wayne Brown Correctional Facility, where he remains in lieu of $12,000 bail.

Grass Valley Police officers were dispatched to Brunswick Road near the Highway 49 overpass at about 3:30 p.m., initially to a report of a man who was jumping in and out of traffic and yelling at passerby, Sgt. Clint Bates said.

The officer initially contacted a different man who was panhandling at the median when Mamula walked up and interjected himself into the conversation, Bates said.

“He said the (first) guy had taken over his spot,” Bates said. “He was manic and aggressive, and difficult to understand.”

After Mamula was identified as the person who had been jumping into traffic, the officer admonished him to stay out of the road. Instead of leaving, however, Mamula went down the embankment onto the highway, Bates said.

An officer drove down to intercept Mamula, who fled, reportedly running across both northbound lanes before jumping the center divide and crossing both southbound lanes.

“He started to walk northbound in the southbound lanes,” Bates said. “With the assistance of CHP and the Sheriff’s Office, we ran traffic breaks in both directions. We didn’t want to chase him on the highway.”

Mamula eventually walked back to the Brunswick overpass and officers were able to take him into custody.

“He was threatening to stab officers,” Bates said. “Then he was threatening to get a gun and find officers’ families.”

Mamula was arrested on suspicion of failing to obey an officer, and making criminal threats against officers. He is set to be arraigned Wednesday in Nevada County Superior Court.

Mamula does not have any recent criminal cases in Nevada County, but court records show a drug offense in 2017, as well as camping and littering offenses in 2018, in Placer County. Online records from El Dorado County show a February 2018 arrest on charges of throwing a substance at a vehicle, carrying a concealed knife and possessing tear gas. He was arrested again in July on suspicion of being drunk in public and resisting arrest.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-3236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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