A Hispanic man last seen barreling down San Clemente side streets in a black SUV with front-end damage is still on the loose Thursday, California Highway Patrol officers said.
Chris Goodwin of the CHP described Wednesday’s harrowing chase, which reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.
A CHP officer was patrolling the south 5 Freeway near the Oso Parkway exit when he noticed a black SUV speeding in the carpool lane. The officer paced the car and attempted to pull him over south of Avery Parkway at about 2:15 p.m., but the driver failed to obey, Goodwin said.
The SUV sped off at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, and the officer gave chase.
North of San Clemente's Estrella exit, the SUV swerved onto the left shoulder and then back into the lanes. The driver crossed the first two inside lanes and clipped a red Acura in the third lane, causing the SUV to careen across the freeway and land facing north in the right shoulder, Goodwin said.
The man driving the SUV made a wide U-turn and sped off again down the 5 south, exiting at Vista Hermosa.
The SUV hurtled down the eastbound lanes of Vista Hermosa only to pull another U-turn and hop back on the southbound 5.
He then led the CHP officer off the El Camino Real exit where he headed north, cutting left onto Esplanade. That’s where the officer lost sight of him, Goodwin said.
A witness said he saw the SUV lose the officer. Connor White of White and White Construction was putting a deck on the front of a home on the 200 block of Esplanade, at the corner of Ola Vista when it happened. He and his co-workers on the roof saw the SUV squeal through the intersection, the strained tires hurling the vehicle left onto Ola Vista. It then veered immediately left onto West Avenida Santiago, White said.
The CHP cruiser followed shortly after, White said, but continued straight on Ola Vista.
White described the damage to the front left of the vehicle.
"It was an SUV -- you know how sometimes they have those running boards? It was dangling off like it clipped something," he said.
Goodwin said the incident is still under investigation. Anyone with information about the subject is encouraged to call the CHP San Juan Capistrano station at 949-487-4000.