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Driver jumps out of stolen CHP cruiser during pursuit

March 29, 2023 GMT

LANCASTER, Calif. (AP) — A driver who stole a California Highway Patrol cruiser died Tuesday after he jumped out of the car during a high-speed chase down a desert highway.

The man was pronounced dead at a hospital, the CHP said. His name wasn’t immediately released.

Officer Alec Pereyda said the CHP began receiving calls at around 11:45 a.m. of a reckless driver on Interstate 5 near Castaic, KNBC-TV reported.

The driver struck another car and when a CHP showed up to investigate, the man jumped into the patrol car and took off, Pereyda said.

The car was clocked at about 50 mph on State Route 138 near Lancaster in the high desert north of Los Angeles when the driver jumped after a spike strip punctured the rear tires, the CHP said.

TV news helicopters captured the incident.

The driverless cruiser then veered off the road and knocked down a wooden utility pole before coming to a halt in a grassy area off the road.

Officers attempted life-saving measures and the man was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, the CHP said.

The CHP said officers are supposed to keep their cars running but locked during investigations. The car contained several weapons but they were locked and the suspect didn’t get access to them, the CHP said.