Man Steals Police Cruiser, Dies After Crashing It on 110 Freeway Near Downtown L.A., Police Say

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A man who jumped into a patrol car and sped off on the 110 Freeway died Thursday morning after driving off a transition road and crashing near downtown Los Angeles, police said.

Authorities surround a patrol car following a crash on the 110 Freeway transition road to the 101 Freeway near downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 29, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

Authorities surround a patrol car following a crash on the 110 Freeway transition road to the 101 Freeway near downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 29, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

The incident began about 3:30 a.m. when a South Pasadena police officer was returning to the city after transporting a prisoner to the University of California Los Angeles Campus, the South Pasadena Police Department stated in a news release.

The officer saw a bus stopped in an island area on the 110 Freeway and pulled over to help, according to the news release.

The bus driver told the officer he stopped the bus after seeing a motorcycle down in lanes and got out to pull the vehicle onto the island.

The officer then searched the freeway shoulder for the the rider but did not locate anyone and went back to the bus driver to get further information.

As the officer was talking to the bus driver, he saw a man climb into the patrol vehicle, according to the news release.

He then tried to pull the man out of the car but was thrown to the ground when the man started the vehicle and began to drive away.

A short time later, authorities began receiving calls that a patrol car had crashed on the northbound 110 Freeway transition road to the southbound 101 in the Chinatown neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Aerial video from Sky5 showed the cruiser, which apparently struck a tree after driving off the road, with severe damage to the front end.

A SigAlert was issued for the closure of the transition road due to police activity, the CHP tweeted at about 3:50 a.m.

Emergency crews responded to the crash site, but the man who crashed the patrol car was pronounced dead at the scene, said Cpl. Phillips with the Police Department.

Officials have not released the man's identity.

The officer involved in the incident sustained minor injuries while initially trying to get the man out of the patrol car, Phillips said.

KTLA's Alberto Mendez contributed to this report.