A high-speed chase on Tuesday night ended in riveting fashion even by L.A. standards — a suspected stolen vehicle led authorities on a chase from Huntington Park and finished when the driver took the truck into a Gold Line train tunnel in Boyle Heights.
The alleged male driver is identified as 27-year-old Rafael Lopez of Los Angeles, said Huntington Park Police Lt. Al Martinez. Lopez was caught, but a female passenger suspect was still at large, reports said. During the pursuit, one person was slightly injured and transported to a hospital when the stolen truck slammed into a taxi.
Flawless execution pic.twitter.com/J4XrgmOhv8
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For people watching the news in bed or reacting on social media, the live helicopter coverage of the chase turned surreal when the truck crawled onto the tracks between the Soto and Indiana stations, and then disappeared into a down-sloping tunnel for the Gold Line trains.
“That truck went full GTA plowing cabs before it pulled the train tunnel escape,” one viewer tweeted.
For more than an hour, the driver led Huntington Park police on high speeds through some of the Eastside’s most well known streets. The vehicle hopped on sidewalks and hit up to 80 mph on some stretches. At one point, the pick-up truck T-boned a taxi at an intersection, leaving one person with minor injuries.
After that collision, the driver careened onto the street level Gold Line tracks on 3rd Street in East L.A., then hopped on again at 1st Street before the dip into the tunnel.
“Wow, we lost him!” exclaimed an ABC 7 aerial reporter from a news chopper. “That’s a first. In thirty years of covering pursuits, that’s a first.”
The truck had been reported stolen on Monday, Lt. Martinez told L.A. TACO. When asked if he had seen anything like it, the officer responded: “A little different, right? Because it went into that tunnel there. I mean, god-forbid a train would have been coming on the same track …”
Lopez, the suspect, was found hiding in some kind of room or closet inside the tunnel, Martinez added. He was booked on felony evading.
The chase began around 9:50 pm, police said, and ended when the suspect was seen led out of the tunnel in cuffs after 11:00 pm. Metro trains were not running at the time in the area, reports said.
Authorities have not released the name of the suspect.