3 hospitalized after Alhambra crash involving driver fleeing suspected catalytic converter theft

Friday, March 3, 2023
3 injured in crash while fleeing suspected catalytic converter theft
Three people were hospitalized after a violent crash at an Alhambra intersection involving a driver who was fleeing from the scene of a suspected catalytic converter theft.

ALHAMBRA, Calif. (KABC) -- Three people were hospitalized after a single-vehicle rollover crash Thursday morning at an Alhambra intersection that involved a driver who had been fleeing from South Pasadena police due to a suspected catalytic converter theft attempt, authorities said.

The crash, which occurred at the intersection of Concord and Fremont avenues, occurred after the suspect drove off the road.

The South Pasadena Police Department said the pursuit began an officer was patrolling the 1600 block of Fremont Avenue around 3 a.m. when he noticed a Lexus sedan double-parked immediately adjacent to a parked Toyota Prius.

The Lexus also did not have its headlights on or a rear license plate.

The suspect fled when the officer initiated a traffic stop, speeding down the road and passing through several red traffic lights.

Due to the unsafe conditions, the officer aborted the pursuit and notified the Alhambra Police Department.

An Alhambra police officer later found the single-vehicle rollover collision.

The occupants of the vehicle have been identified as a 16-year-old male from Los Angeles, 28-year-old Elmer Contreras Robinson from Cudahy and 25-year-old Alberto Avitia from Huntington.

Firefighters said all three were injured after one person was ejected and two others were trapped in the vehicle.

Chris Gutierrez told ABC7 he lives just a few blocks away. He was among the dozen or so people who stopped to wonder, "How could anyone survive this?"

"They must've been flying to do that much damage," he said. "I heard sirens and a helicopter and I heard a big bang, and I was like, 'How weird, you know?'"

Eyewitness News has reported on at least 13 pursuits in Los Angeles County so far this year, resulting in eight people injured and seven killed.

The actual number of pursuits is likely much higher, based on California Highway Patrol data from 2020.

A police chase at the end of January in Panorama City led to a crash in an intersection, where the fleeing suspect hit and killed two men, who just happened to be driving by.

Another from mid-February killed 19-year-old Erick Barbosa Guardado. The suspect in that incident was also fleeing police, and ran a red light.

California agencies have guidelines on initiating pursuits that can be summed up with the balance test.

It asks officers to consider factors that include the initial reason for the stop, the safety and volume of the traffic around them, the location, such as if they're near a school, along with visibility and how dangerous the driver is driving.

Each agency is subject to its own policies, with the question -- Is it worth it?

Anyone with additional information on the above case are encouraged to contact the South Pasadena Police Department at 624-493-7297, or through an anonymous "Crime Stoppers" tip hotline at 800-222-8477.