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Pursuit suspect crashes van into car in Burbank traffic

January 21, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A man in a work van led police on a wild pursuit through the San Fernando Valley Monday, ending with a crash.

For about 20 minutes late Monday afternoon, the driver of a utility van led police officers on a low-speed pursuit, traveling through Sun Valley to Burbank, sideswiping cars along the way.

"Somebody called about a possibly impaired driver. Upon officers arriving, they tried to initiate a traffic stop, at which point he failed to yield," said LAPD Sgt. Steven Gomez.

A spike-strip was deployed, causing the van's front right tire to eventually tear apart.

The driver, identified as 52-year-old Albert Lee Stokes, collided with two vehicles on Buena Vista Street. The second crash sent a Toyota sedan onto someone's front lawn.

"Very scary," said the driver of the sedan, Sherman Oaks resident Nestorio Layumas. "Very sudden, very strong and I couldn't even control the steering wheel. I just saw the house. Thank God for this mound here."

Layumas was a bit shaken up but was otherwise fine.

The van came to a stop about 100 feet farther after hitting the sedan.

The driver is a service technician for American Solar Direct. He surrendered and was taken into custody.

Investigators said Stokes admitted to smoking crack earlier in the day, but was not under the influence at the time of his arrest.

Monday night American Solar Direct issued a statement: "Like others who saw today's situation, we too, were shocked by this driver's actions. American Solar Direct has a rigorous hiring and training process to ensure all employees meet the company's high standards for customer service and performance. We expect our employees to obey the law and conduct themselves to the highest professional standards."

Stokes was booked on felony evading but will likely face other charges as well.


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