Tuesday Mar 31 2009
Teen led police on high-speed chase down 80
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Auburn father, daughter feared for their lives
A 14-year-old boy put his young life — and the life of an Auburn father and his 8-year-old daughter — in danger after he led law enforcement on a high-speed pursuit in a truck he stole from his grandfather. The youth, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile, was arrested on charges of vehicle theft, evading a police officer and driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs after he ran his grandfather’s 2000 gray Ford Ranger onto a curb near Marguerite Mine Road on Highway 49 in Auburn Saturday, according to Rocklin Police Department spokesman Lt. Lon Milka. At about 8 p.m. Saturday, Rocklin police received a report of a stolen vehicle from a residence on the 4800 block of Lel Cid Drive in Rocklin. A patrol officer later saw the truck on Sierra College Boulevard, approaching Interstate 80 toward Auburn and started to pursue the vehicle with his patrol lights and siren on. Milka said the 14-year-old Citrus Heights resident reached speeds of about 90 mph and was weaving in and out of traffic traveling eastbound on 80. The pursuit was called off shortly after authorities realized the driver was a minor and deemed it unsafe to chase after him given traffic conditions and his age, Milka said. The Rocklin police officer turned off his lights but continued to trail the driver. According to Milka, Auburn California Highway Patrol officers and deputies from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office then pursued the 14-year-old until the chase came to an end in Auburn. Auburn resident Roger Lord said he and his daughter were leaving the Home Depot on Highway 49 Saturday night and we’re thinking about heading over to Starbucks for an evening treat. He said when he looked down the road and saw flashing police lights, he decided to go home instead. As he and his daughter were sitting in his vehicle at a stoplight on Atwood Road, he noticed police cars coming over the horizon. Then he saw a -man in a small pickup truck “barreling” down the road — with about six or seven patrol cars chasing after him — headed straight for Lord’s car. “I was thinking, ‘This could be it. This could be the end,’” Lord said. Lord said what probably happened next most likely occurred in about 10 seconds but felt like it took “forever.” He watched as the gray truck made a last-minute veer out of Lord’s lane. “He took a hard turn,” Lord said. “You could see the truck leaning on its side, fighting to keep from rolling over.” Lord said thousands of thoughts ran through his head as he watched the scene unfold. “My daughter was in the car with me and it was scary,” Lord said. “I really literally said my prayers like, ‘God, don’t let this be it. She’s only 8 years old.’” Lord said after the car had blasted through the intersection and the patrol cars had zoomed by, the light turned green but no cars moved. “Everyone was still just sitting there,” Lord said. Milka said no injuries were reported and the vehicle was returned to its owner. Milka said authorities do not know yet why the teen took the vehicle. The teen was booked into juvenile hall and will face his charges in the juvenile court system. As for Lord, he said he’s thankful to be alive. “It was a very surreal experience,” Lord said. “You think you only see this on ‘COPS.’” The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment.