A Huntington Beach man died after bystanders wrestled with him at the end of a bizarre Christmas Eve rampage in which he rammed several other cars with a stolen van, smashed out the windows of two other cars with a tire iron and tried to carjack a third vehicle, authorities said.
Ramon J. Lopez Jr., 39, lost consciousness and ultimately died at a hospital following the confrontation, which took place about 11:15 a.m. Monday on the eastbound 10 Freeway, just west of San Gabriel Boulevard, in Rosemead, California Highway Patrol Officer Giovanni Bembi said in a written statement.
Lopez was at the wheel of a GMC Safari van which had been reported stolen when he struck a Scion xB at New Avenue in Alhambra and continued driving, according to the officer.
Following the initial hit-and-run, the Safari continued driving “erratically” and collided with a Volkswagen Jetta, officials said. He fled the scene of that crash, as well, but the van became disabled and came to a stop near San Gabriel Boulevard.
Lopez got out of the van with a tire iron in-hand, Bembi said. He then jumped up onto the hood of a stopped BMW sedan and smashed out the windshield.
Lopez then turned his attention to a nearby Toyota Corolla, shattering a window of that car, Bembi said. Lopez then hurled his body into the side of a stopped Ford Explorer SUV, causing a large dent.
“Mr. Lopez began cursing at the driver and passenger and grabbed the Ford Explorer’s door handles, possibly in an attempt to carjack it,” Bembi said.
The chaos brought all traffic lanes to a halt.
“A group of Good Samaritans took hold of Mr. Lopez and tackled him to the ground,” Bembi said. “The good Samaritans struggled to keep Mr. Lopez on the ground as he forcibly resisted by (wrestling) with them in an aggressive manner.”
A passing ambulance stopped to help, officials said. The bystanders released Lopez, and he appeared unconscious.
Paramedics took Lopez to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead just before noon, authorities said.
His cause of death will be determined through an investigation by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
Anyone with information can reach the CHP’s East Los Angeles-area office at 323-980-4600.