A more than 12-hour police pursuit and standoff with a suspect in a stolen big rig came to an end Thursday on the Garden Grove (55) Freeway in Santa Ana — a stretch of which was closed during the morning rush hour, frustrating hundreds of thousands of motorists.
Bryan Santana, 22, of Los Angeles, was accused of stealing a big rig in East Los Angeles, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Florentino Olivera.
After a chase that began in East Los Angeles around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, the suspect in the stolen rig came to a stop on the southbound 55 Freeway at MacArthur Boulevard around 4 a.m. Thursday. But Santana refused to exit the vehicle, prompting a standoff that lasted about 4 1/2 hours and forced the closure of the freeway.
Santana was finally taken into custody around 8:30 a.m.
But the damage was already done for commuters, who scrambled to find alternate routes through the area and clogged city streets for miles.
The rig was stolen around 8:14 p.m. Wednesday from a food service lot at Fifth and Indiana streets in East Los Angeles, California Highway Patrol spokesman Patrick Kimball said. An employee of ISF (Individual Food Service), a Bell-based food service company, called police to report the tractor trailer he was driving was stolen.
CHP pursued the driver via helicopter and with vehicle patrols and slowed the suspect using spike strips multiple times on the 118 and 101 freeways, causing blowouts to the rig’s front and back tires, but the suspect did not stop, Kimball said. At least two of the 18-wheeler’s tires were blown completely off the rig. Olivera said more than half of the tires were flattened.
Just before 11 p.m. three additional attempts with the spike strips were used to no avail, Kimball said.
With the truck running primarily on damaged rims, the suspect came to a stop on the 55 Freeway at about 4 a.m., beginning the standoff that forced the freeway closure. Police backed an armored vehicle up to the truck’s cab to pin the motorist in place, but he still refused to exit the vehicle.
After hours of negotiations, Santana surrendered without incident, Olivera said.