Some are declaring it L.A.’s craziest car chase, but it has some wild competition

A montage of some of Southern California's wildest car chases, including the one involving O.J. Simpson; one in which robber threw money of the car and a chase and ramage involving a tank in San Diego.

A montage of some of Southern California’s wildest car chases, including the one involving O.J. Simpson; one in which robber threw money of the car and a chase and ramage involving a tank in San Diego.

(Los Angeles Times/AP)

No, it was not your imagination.

Even veteran cops involved in police pursuits said the one Thursday across the rain-slicked streets of Los Angeles was one for the ages.

It’s not the human toll -- this chase ended without injuries and little actual damage to cars (though there were some close calls).

But there was simply something surreal about the driver and passenger in a Mustang convertible dodging through traffic in the rain, doing doughnuts on Sunset Boulevard and getting into conversations with fellow drivers before ending the pursuit with a neighborhood coronation of hugs and high-fives.


“In all my years of seeing chases that is one of top 10 most bizarre pursuits in L.A.,” said Dennis Zine, a former L.A. City Councilman with a combined 47 years with the LAPD and its reserve.

“I have been involved in a lot of pursuits but I haven’t seen anything quite like that,” said Zine, who spent many of his years as a motorcycle officer. “It was very hazardous to other drivers and pedestrians. They were pulling doughnuts on a busy street.”

Zine said the driver of a TMZ bus seemed to be the only one who made any move to impede their path effectively. He cautioned that impeding such suspects can be dangerous.

Zine said the men were almost ignoring the police and nonchalantly driving through the hills at speeds far higher than safe for the wet roads. “It was a truly bizarre pursuit,” he said. “The high-fives at the end were ridiculous. It was 10 minutes before the sheriffs pulled up to make the arrests.”

So was it the most bizarre chase in Southern California history? Well, compare it with some other high-profile ones:

Free money


Bank robbers threw money from a car as they drove through South L.A. during an hourlong chase in September 2012. Crowds eager to scoop up the cash had grown into a mob by the time the pursuit ended. It was not clear whether the suspected robbers were hurling the money out of their vehicle in an attempt to divert deputies or as a Robin Hood-like gesture.

“Kids were smiling like it was Christmas,” added a neighbor, who gave only his first name, Desean.

The one with the U-Haul

You know you’re in the midst of a memorable pursuit when even the California Highway Patrol is cracking jokes on Twitter.

In April 2013, two people led authorities on a pursuit in a moving van, prompting the CHP Southern Division to tweet: “What is it about @uhaul trucks?!” The company responded: “Maybe it’s because they are so easy to drive!”

The suspect stole a U-Haul truck from Riverside and sped across slick, rainy roadways on the 91 Freeway and into Orange County before he was arrested after authorities forced the truck to stop.

After it was over, @CHPSouthern couldn’t resist one more tweet: “Please be careful when opening the roll-up door as items may have shifted during pursuit.”

Corvette chase

In 2013, police chased the driver of a Corvette as he drove at high rates of speed through downtown L.A. After broadsiding another car, the driver got out and police fatally shot him. The pursuit and shooting were shown live on television.

The Los Angeles City Council approved a $5-million settlement last year with the family of the man, a National Guard veteran. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he was concerned about the tactics used by officers involved in the shooting.

And most famously, O.J.

You can’t think of a police pursuit without thinking of a white Ford Bronco being chased by 20 LAPD squad cars as onlookers cheered and waved alongside the 405 Freeway.

In 1994, television networks and cable news channels aired two hours of nonstop coverage of the O.J. Simpson spectacle.

The former football star led police on a two-hour chase across Southern California in his white Ford Bronco after he was charged with killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

As the slow-speed chase dragged on, people gathered on overpasses to wave and witness Simpson drive into the history books.

It was, as one entertainment lawyer put it, “the day Los Angeles stopped.”

Tank troubles

In 1995, a man stole a 53-ton Army tank in San Diego and plowed over power poles, fire hydrants and at least 40 cars before he crashed into a highway divider and was fatally shot by police. Authorities didn’t quite know how to approach the renegade M60, The Times reported.

“Everyone here was standing around saying, ‘How many miles per gallon does a tank get?’ and ‘How do you stop a tank?’ ” one California Highway Patrol dispatcher said.


The most L.A car chase ever gives everyone something to tweet about

Wild police pursuit in rain includes ‘doughnuts’ on the 101, hugs and a TMZ tour bus