Julie Ann Rainbird, 52, of Winnetka, has been charged with one felony count each of fleeing a pursuing peace officer's motor vehicle causing serious bodily injury, hit-and-run driving resulting in serious injury to another person and cruelty to an animal, as well as three counts each of assault with a deadly weapon, RV, and hit-and-run driving resulting in injury to another person.
She smashed into six cars and tore off the side of the RV in her efforts to get away from the California Highway Patrol while speeding through the San Fernando Valley.
Authorities said the motorhome was stolen from Giant RV in Downey. The owner of the recreational vehicle, a Granada Hills woman, said not only was her RV stolen, her identity information was stolen as well. That information was used to purchase a motorcycle in Simi Valley. The theft victim was notified of that purchase on April 30, which is when she reported the crime to Simi Valley police.
In the middle of the chase, one of the dogs that was sitting on Rainbird's lap jumped out through the smashed front windshield and ran off as she continued driving. Both dogs were safely in the custody of animal services and are recovering from injuries, officials say.
At several points, the woman was driving up to 60 mph on surface streets. She struck a palm tree in a shopping center before continuing, shearing the passenger's side of the RV and smashing in the windshield.
The pursuit finally ended when the RV collided with a white Hyundai in Tarzana and the woman jumped out and fled on foot. Officers quickly tackled her and took her into custody as she was trying to jump the fence of a home in the neighborhood.
Two people inside the Hyundai were injured, including David Opell.
He actually crossed paths with the RV twice.
The first time, Rainbird cut him off as he was driving home. Just minutes later, AIR7 HD captured Opell's car pulling off the side of the road and the RV veering to follow, smashing hard into the much smaller vehicle.
Opell suffered broken ribs, a punctured lung and a broken bone in his back.