A 15-year-old youth being chased by police as he drove a stolen four-wheel-drive truck at 80 m.p.h. ran a red light early Monday and smashed broadside into a compact car that carried a Santa Ana couple, police said.
The truck struck with such force, police said, that the couple inside the car were thrown onto the pavement at the intersection of Fairview and First streets.
Victor Manuel Monroy-Barrales, 32, died shortly after the crash; his wife, Maria Garcia Calderon, 33, was critically injured.
The youth--whose name was withheld because he is a minor--was treated for a minor head cut and taken to Juvenile Hall. He is being held on suspicion of murder, auto theft, possession of stolen property and evading a police officer.
The collision ended a short pursuit in which police said the youth drove on the wrong side of Fairview before running the red light and striking Monroy-Barrales' 1980 Datsun.
Santa Ana Police Lt. Robert Helton said the incident began when an officer noticed a Toyota 4-Runner weaving in traffic at 3:45 a.m. while headed west on McFadden Avenue, near Raitt Street.
When the driver apparently saw the officer behind him, he abruptly turned into the parking lot of a shopping center and speeded up in an apparent attempt to evade the officer, Helton said.
The officer was still behind the truckwhen it emerged northbound on Fairview, Helton said. The teen-ager then drove across a break in the median island and headed north in the southbound lanes.
Helton said the officer radioed that he was pursuing but remained on the right side of the median in the northbound lanes.
The youth speeded up to 80 m.p.h, Helton said, while the officer continued at a slower speed.
Officers discovered that the vehicle driven by the youth had recently been stolen in Huntington Beach.
Monroy-Barrales died at United Western Medical Center-Santa Ana about two hours after the crash. His wife remained in critical condition after surgery Monday afternoon at UCI Medical Center in Orange.