Lake Balboa crash: Stolen-vehicle suspect in custody after wreck injures 10

ByRob Hayes and staff KABC logo
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Police chase ends in violent crash in Lake Balboa, injuring at least 4 people
A stolen car suspect led police on a chase that ended in a violent crash in Lake Balboa, where at least four people were reportedly injured.

LAKE BALBOA, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A suspect in a stolen pickup truck fled from police and got into a violent multi-vehicle crash in Lake Balboa, where several people were injured.

Los Angeles police said it all began as a "citizen following" call. Authorities received a call from someone saying he was following a stolen car traveling eastbound on Victory at White Oak.

LAPD officers tracked down the suspect at Victory and Burbank. The suspect turned left on Balboa, and that's when officers turned on their lights and sirens in an attempt to pull the suspect over.

The suspect then took off at a high rate of speed and crashed into several cars at the intersection of Balboa and Vanowen. The chase came to an end in a horrific wreck involving five vehicles near Balboa and Vanowen - right across from a school.

LAFD initially said there were at least five patients but later changed that figure to four - three with serious injuries and one with minor injuries. Los Angeles police later confirmed 10 passengers and pedestrians were hurt. One 25-year-old woman was trapped inside a silver Honda and is now fighting for her life in critical condition. Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to extract one person from a vehicle.

"He had to be going 80 miles an hour through that intersection," said one witness. "It was devastating the sounds that makes with the metal crunching and glass breaking and looking around and seeing how many pedestrians were here. There was a woman in a royal blue windbreaker that was five feet away from being murdered. She ran, and she's lucky she did, because this would have been her last day."

The suspect driver fled the stolen truck but was taken into custody in a McDonald's parking lot nearby. Investigators say the pickup was stolen from Marina del Rey and three suspects were inside.

Exclusive video from AIR7 HD shows the Toyota pickup plowing through the intersection, striking the five other vehicles. A closer look shows the parts of those cars and trucks flying into the air, the pickup flipping on its side before disappearing behind buildings.

The LAPD said the incident was not a pursuit since the wreck happened just six to eight seconds after officers tried to pull the truck over.

Authorities are also opening a use-of-force investigation. They said an officer searching the stolen truck found a gun and when he went to retrieve it, it went off. Nobody was struck by that round.