A 17-Year-Old Led Authorities On A Two-Hour High-Speed Chase Across Five Freeways
A 17-year-old led authorities on a circuitous high-speed chase across five freeways and a wide swath of Southern California for close to two hours on Monday afternoon. It all began in Calabasas at half past noon, when sheriff's deputies first tried to pull the young driver over. His original offense? Reckless driving, according to CBS 2. If only those Calabasas deputies knew what was to come.
The young driver in the 2006 black Navigator did not yield to those sheriff's deputies and instead made for the freeway, cruising onto the westbound 101 and into the jurisdiction of the California Highway Patrol. With a fondness for circumnavigating freeways seemingly out of a Joan Didion story, the teenage suspect went west, then east on the 101 before heading north on the 405 freeway, which he took to the Sylmar area. From there, the young driver made something akin to a giant circle (albeit a sloppy one), taking the 5 freeway to the eastbound 210 freeway and then the westbound 118 freeway back onto the southbound 405. Seeming to find his groove on the 405, the driver cruised south through Long Beach and into Orange County, where, according to KTLA, two spike strips failed to stop his car.
"Cruise" is maybe not the most precise verb to use there. According to California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Edgar Figueroa, the fleeing driver drove on freeway shoulders, went in and out of the carpool lane, changed lanes abruptly, perilously wove through traffic, and was generally "a danger to the motoring public."
After passing through the San Fernando Valley, the Sepulveda Pass, the South Bay and Orange County, the pursuit ultimately ended in northern San Diego when the suspect ran out of gas in front of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
"He was going full speed and then just coasted to a stop," Officer Rafael Reynoso of the California Highway Patrol's San Juan Capistrano office told LAist. Reynoso described the area near Camp Pendleton where the suspect was apprehended as desolate, and said that the teenager, a Hispanic male wearing a t-shirt and jeans, was "very cooperative" once his car stopped.
Officer Josh Nelson of the California Highway Patrol's Border Division (a two-hour chase takes a suspect through many a jurisdiction) told LAist that it was fortunate that no one was hurt, given how reckless the suspect's driving had been.
"There were a lot of scary moments where many drivers could have been put in serious danger, but luckily the officers were on their game," Nelson said.
We asked Officer Nelson if it was apparent to CHP officers that there was a teenager behind the wheel during the chase given their extensive experience and expertise, but he said that it's really impossible to guess the age of a driver from how they are driving. "I've had drivers well into their 50s and 60s driving like that," he told us.
Weirdly enough, this wasn't even the first multi-hour car chase to start in greater Los Angeles and end in San Diego County today. According to the L.A. Times, a female driver in a red Saturn sedan led authorities on a high-speed chase that began in Long Beach just after 4:30 a.m. and ended in a residential neighborhood in northern San Diego County just before 7 a.m.
"It is unusual," Officer Figueroa said, speaking to the likelihood of having two multi-hour Southern California car chases in one day. "It's not something that happens often," he added.
When asked which chase was more exciting, Officer Figueroa said that he wouldn't call it "excitement," but "from an officer's perspective, the adrenaline and the stress level is just as big in both of them. They were both equally stressful."