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Motorist eludes police at 110 mph

May 07, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

A motorist led a county Sheriff's Office deputy on a pursuit through the Imperial Valley on Sunday that ended when the fleeing car reached speeds of 110 mph and the deputy decided to end the chase.

The incident started shortly before 5 a.m. in rural El Centro.

According to sheriff's Sgt. David Obeso, a deputy saw a motorist in a brown Ford Taurus drive through a stop sign on a county road.

When the deputy tried to stop the car, the driver did not comply and continued to drive through El Centro and into Imperial. At that point the speed of the pursuit only reached 30 mph.

That didn't last.

The motorist led the deputy, reportedly joined for a time by Imperial police units, onto Ralph Road through Imperial.

Obeso said the motorist then turned north on Highway 111, where speeds jumped to what the deputy estimated was 110 mph.

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At that point, Obeso said, the deputy broke off the pursuit, deeming it a safety hazard.

The deputy notified the California Highway Patrol and the Brawley Police Department but neither agency took up the pursuit.

Authorities were unsure whether the motorist left the Imperial Valley. The driver reportedly left Highway 111 and went onto Best Road in Brawley.

Sheriff's Sgt. Myron King said officers involved in a pursuit have to make a decision whether to continue a chase when the danger level grows.

"The officer has an option to call it or the sergeant has an option to call it when they feel the risk becomes too great," King said.

King said speed is a factor, along with the amount of traffic and the risk to people.

In this case, reports indicate the deputy was concerned about other traffic.

King said the "supposition" is the motorist will slow to safer speeds when the pursuit is discontinued.

He said pursuits are common in the Imperial Valley, adding many involve illegal immigration or drug trafficking.

King added one factor authorities have to think about when engaged in a pursuit is the reason for the chase.

In Sunday's pursuit, the deputy was giving chase because the motorist had failed to stop at a stop sign.

King said if the pursuit had been related to a felony or some other crime, it is possible the deputy might have continued the pursuit.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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