A man accused of leading police on a wild chase that ended when the suspect drove an allegedly stolen pickup truck into a Metro Gold Line tunnel in Boyle Heights was behind bars Wednesday, but a female passenger who fled on foot remained at large.
Rafael Lopez, 27, of Los Angeles, was being held in lieu of $150,000 bail.
He is accused of leading the televised chase that began around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday near Salt Lake and Gage avenues, where Huntington Park police responded to a report of a stolen pickup.
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Officers spotted the vehicle and began chasing it, said Huntington Park Police Sgt. Abigail Valle.
With TV news helicopters capturing the action from above, the driver at one point slammed into the side of a taxi but kept going, later driving on a sidewalk as he tried to elude pursuing police. One person in the taxi was treated for a minor injury.
The driver continued into East Los Angeles and then to Boyle Heights, where he stunned viewers by veering onto westbound Metro Gold Line tracks and into a train tunnel near First and Lorena streets. An eastbound train was seen entering the tunnel from the opposite direction, but according to Metro, the truck in the pursuit got stuck on the westbound tracks and was not hit by the train. The train eventually backed out of the tunnel.
Lopez and his female passenger abandoned the truck in the tunnel and were seen running as authorities tried to secure several exit points. Lopez came out of the tunnel shortly after 11 p.m. and was taken into custody without further incident, authorities said.
The passenger, however, managed to escape the area.
Gold Line service was suspended in the area between the Pico/Aliso and Indiana stations due to the search, with buses being used to shuttle passengers around the area, said Metro’s Jose Ubaldo.
–City News Service
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