A suspected thief was killed and two other men were fighting for their lives in a hospital following a crash triggered by a police chase from Tustin through Santa Ana.
Three suspects broke into the Red Poppy Boutique at 640 W. First St. in Tustin late Tuesday night and stole “high-end purses” and other goods, according to Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
An Orange County sheriff’s deputy patrolling the area spotted the suspects and tried to pull them over in their SUV, but the motorist punched the gas, Bertagna said.
“The deputy driving down the street sees three subjects running toward a blacked-out vehicle,” Bertagna said. “They had gloves on their hands and guys with gloves in the middle of summer running away from a 7-Eleven into a blacked-out parked car might be somebody you want to stop.”
The suspects raced away at speeds topping 100 mph and eventually lost the deputy, Bertagna said. When they reached Chestnut Avenue and Lyon Street the driver lost control, Bertagna said.
“They hit a big, huge dip and a curve in the road,” Bertagna said. “They hit the tip and they are sideways. They go from the westbound lanes to the eastbound lanes, back-sliding across and in the air before they slam the side of the car into a tree, immediately killing the passenger.”
Santa Ana school district police officers in their station nearby “heard this massive explosion,” so they ran out to investigate, Bertagna said. The vehicle was afire, and the officers attempted to help the occupants of the SUV, he added.
Orange County Fire Authority firefighters had to bring their “heavy rescue crews” to extract the driver and other passenger, who were trapped, Bertagna said.
The driver did not have any identification on him so investigators were working to figure out his name, Bertagna said. Meanwhile, investigators were working to contact the dead man’s family before releasing his name.
The driver and the other suspect who survived were in critical condition at an area hospital, Bertagna said.
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