LANCASTER, Calif. — A man accused of stealing a California Highway Patrol cruiser died on Tuesday after he jumped out of the driver’s side door while the vehicle was still moving, authorities said.
The man was driving around 45 mph on a highway near Lancaster as it approached a spike strip set up by police, according to footage shot by KABC-TV. After leaping from the cruiser, the suspect hit his head and the roadway and was immediately unresponsive, the television station reported.
The cruiser crashed into an electrical pole and knocked it down at about 12:55 p.m. PDT, the Los Angeles Times reported.
#BREAKING Suspect leaps from speeding car after stealing CHP unit and leading police on high-speed chase through Antelope Valley https://t.co/DsAQMRDoqa— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) March 28, 2023
The man, whose identity is being withheld by authorities, was taken to Antelope Valley Hospital where he died, according to the newspaper.
The incident began when the Dodge Charger cruiser was stolen as officers were responding to a crash on a northbound lane of Interstate 5 at Halsey Canyon, KTLA-TV reported.
When a state trooper checked on the parties involved, the driver of one of the vehicles exited his car, jumped into the cruiser and drove away, according to the television station.
Troopers said the man did not gain access to any of the weapons that were in the vehicle, the Times reported.
A CHP spokesperson later told reporters that troopers dragged the man off the road because they were concerned that the lines from the damaged power pole and the electrified wires could have fallen near the man, KABC reported. Once the man was on the side of the road, officers performed CPR before medical personnel arrived to transport him to the hospital, according to the television station.
CHP spokesperson Alec Pereyda said it was standard procedure for a cruiser to be left running when officers exit, but added that the doors are required to be locked, KTLA reported.
An investigation is ongoing but “complex,” according to the Times.