Wrong way driver chased down after crashing auto

A man suspected of being under the influence of alcohol and driving on the wrong side of the road collided with numerous vehicles before coming to a stop and fleeing from his vehicle.

Witnesses at the scene said that an aging Chrysler PT Cruiser was heading north on Claremont Boulevard when it jumped the median near Arrow Highway and continued north in the southbound lanes. A work crew installing a pipe had one southbound lane closed, forcing the suspect’s vehicle into remaining lane. He narrowly missed a bus before hitting two vehicles, including a grey sedan driven by a 19-year-old Claremont college student.

Corporal Sean Evans and Officer Lauren Hayes received the call at 2:10 p.m. and responded quickly to the scene, accessed the situation and began questioning witnesses, including a man who was a passenger in the vehicle that drove the wrong way.

Steve Spearman, a foreman with Ventura Drilling who was working on the pipe installation, said that the car narrowly missed the backhoe he was operating and then forced his safetyman to jump out of the way.

“He could have killed me or one of my men,” said Mr. Spearman, adding that he used to drink a lot and knows how wrong it is to drive under the influence. 

After the collision the driver ran from the scene leaving his passenger, believed to be the suspect’s stepfather, at the location. 

Mr. Spearman chased the man on foot for a couple of blocks before giving up half of the way up Brooks Avenue. “Thank God I quit smoking or I never would have been able to run like that,” he said of the chase. “But I wish I could have got him.”

According to Lieutenant Karlan Bennett, Claremont officers searched the area yard by yard and located the suspect hiding in some bushes in the backyard of a residence on the 100 block of Brooks Avenue. The suspect was apprehended at 2:29 p.m. and taken to Claremont PD for booking. The name and age of the suspect has not yet been released.

The passenger in the suspect’s vehicle was also arrested for public intoxication and remains in custody.

The COURIER will continue to update the story as more details become available.

—Angela Bailey



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