MEAD VALLEY, Calif. — Three men, including one who was ejected, were hospitalized at the end of a dangerous, high-speed pursuit of a stolen pickup truck Tuesday, Jan. 12. The chase ended when a CHP officer utilized a pursuit intervention (PIT) maneuver near Lake Mathews.
The chase lasted more than an hour and began on the eastbound 60 Freeway west of the 71. It then continued to Ontario and then south to Corona, before heading to Temescal Canyon. The driver of the stolen pickup truck, since identified as Vicente Villegas, a 21-year-old felon on probation, eventually exited on Cajalco Road, where the PIT maneuver was used.
Although just a tap from one bumper to another, the high-speed impact sent the stolen truck careening out of control before it overturned “at least three times”, according to CHP; who later said the maneuver brought an end to the lengthy chase.
Tuesday’s pursuit began after a Riverside County Sheriff’s aviation crew spotted the stolen vehicle, a grey Ford Ranger, from their helicopter. Deputies reported that the vehicle was heading westbound on the Pomona (60) Freeway, crossing into San Bernardino County, CHP Officer Juan Quintero has since reported.
Quintero explained from the scene of the wreck that Villegas allegedly stole the Ford early Tuesday afternoon and picked up two friends before the chase began. It was not immediately known if the passengers Villegas picked up were aware the truck he was driving was stolen.
When patrol officers caught up to the stolen truck near the Corona (71) Expressway and attempted to conduct a traffic stop, Villegas refused to yield and sped away from officers; heading south, back into Riverside County.
“The driver attempted to flee by driving at speeds in excess of 100 mph on several freeways and surface streets,” Quintero said of the chase.
Multiple agencies and area Sheriff’s stations eventually joined, assisted, or tracked the pursuit as it wound its way through two counties.
About an hour into the pursuit, Villegas headed south on Interstate 15 before heading east on Cajalco Road toward Lake Mathews.
As the chase continued on Cajalco Road and Villegas was approaching Wood Road, CHP used the PIT maneuver to bring the pursuit to an end.
“(He) lost control of the vehicle (that) rolled several times,” Quintero later said of the PIT maneuver and subsequent crash that ended the pursuit; adding, “The vehicle came to rest on its wheels in an adjacent field.”
As the pickup overturned, one of the occupants was thrown from the Ford. He was later seen alert and talking to paramedics, as they treated him at the scene before he was transported to an area hospital. His unspecified injuries were described as moderate.
Both the other passenger and Villegas, who was arrested at the scene, were also transported to area hospitals for treatment of minor to moderate injuries.
After his arrest, Villegas was booked into Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on suspicion of auto theft, felony evading, reckless driving, being a felon in possession of a firearm and probation violations.
Online jail records indicate he remains in custody and is being held without bail.