Exclusive: RV chase crash victim details harrowing sight of vehicle barreling toward him

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- David Opell saw the reckless RV driver speeding toward him and he pulled over to get out of her path.

But he watched helplessly as she veered and continued to barrel toward him. As time slowed down, he could only brace for the hit.

Authorities say the suspect, identified as Julie Ann Rainbird, 52, of Winnetka, led a violent, high-speed chase in a stolen RV from Santa Clarita to Tarzana.

She smashed into six cars and tore off the side of the RV in her efforts to get away from the CHP.

Caught up in the middle of the mayhem was Opell.



He actually crossed paths with the RV twice.

The first time, Rainbird cut him off as he was driving home.

He immediately called his wife.

"And I said, hey I go I'm fine but I just want to let you know I almost just got killed by this crazy RV that looks like an airplane flew into it. I said I don't know what the deal is but something is not right."

But that was just a sign of things to come.

Just minutes later he was almost home.

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A woman in an RV led authorities on a wild chase from the Santa Clarita area, crashing into two cars before finally before taken into custody in Tarzana.



"I just happened to look in my rearview mirror and I saw the RV. And she was flying - she was easily doing 50 (mph)."

"I saw the whole thing. I mean I watched her barrel right into me. It was almost like she was doing it on purpose."

Aerial footage shows Opell's car pulling off the side of the road and the RV veering to follow, smashing hard into the much smaller vehicle.

Opell says in the seconds before he was hit, time slowed down.

"I was totally helpless. There was nothing I could do so I just braced for it. And I just waited for it to go."

Opell says he immediately got out of the car. He was disoriented and hurt - but breathing.

"Am I lucky? Absolutely. I easily could've been dead, no doubt about it."

As for Rainbird, she's facing DUI, felony evading and felony hit-and-run charges.

She's also accused of stealing the RV and the identity of the woman who owns it.

Opell suffered broken ribs, a punctured lung and a broken bone in his back.

He has no idea how long he'll have to stay in the hospital and miss work.

And this all happened right before he was to fly out of town for Memorial Day weekend to celebrate his wedding anniversary.

He doesn't have much to say to Rainbird. He's just happy to be alive.

"I'm happy I'm here. It's a good day. I'm here and I'm breathing. Every day above ground is a good one."
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