A teen-ager barely old enough to drive was captured in North Hollywood after leading California Highway Patrol officers on a high-speed chase from Santa Barbara along a Ventura Freeway jammed with holiday traffic.
The 16-year-old boy from Baldwin Park was taken to San Fernando Valley Juvenile Hall after he lost control of the stolen van he was driving Thursday night and it overturned, Officer Dwight McDonald said. His passenger, a 15-year-old Santa Maria girl, also was taken to Juvenile Hall, McDonald said.
McDonald said neither appeared to be seriously hurt.
The chase began at 8:20 p.m. near Santa Barbara when CHP officers tried to stop the van for speeding. When the van headed south instead, officers followed it, calling for help from other CHP officers and police departments along the way.
Despite heavy traffic, the teen-age driver managed to reach speeds up to 95 m.p.h. by swerving onto the right shoulder and the area next to the center divider. McDonald said that when the van slowed to 10 m.p.h. in traffic near Reseda Boulevard, officers tried to ram it into the center divider to stop it.
“That’s a tricky maneuver,” McDonald said. “You got to know how to do it or the guy who does the ramming is the one who crashes.”
However, just as a CHP car prepared to ram the van, traffic speeded up and the attempt could not be made.
The driver left the freeway at Laurel Canyon Boulevard, heading north, and traveled more than a mile in less than a minute. “He was cooking,” McDonald said.
Four California Highway Patrol cars were following when the van crashed near Burbank Boulevard at 10:11 p.m. and the two teen-agers were arrested.
No other cars were involved in the accident.