Police Chase Ends With Fiery Crash in Uptown Whittier; Innocent Driver Killed

A police chase ended with a fiery crash in Uptown Whittier on Monday, killing an innocent driver, authorities said.

The  pursuit began about 11 a.m. when an officer spotted an alleged incident of road rage and attempted to pull over the aggressor in the area of Whittier Boulevard and Greenleaf Avenue, the Whittier Police Department said in a written statement.

A police pursuit ended with a fiery crash in Whittier on Feb. 18, 2019, sending both a suspect and an uninvolved motorist to the hospital, officials said. (Credit: KTLA)

A police pursuit ended with a fiery crash in Whittier on Feb. 18, 2019, sending both a suspect and an uninvolved motorist to the hospital, officials said. (Credit: KTLA)

The driver refused to pull over, initiating a short chase that wound through the streets of Uptown Whittier, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said.

"During the pursuit, the suspect attempted to ram at least three of our responding patrol cars, causing them to take evasion action to avoid a collision," according to the police statement.

The chase came to an end minutes later when the fleeing suspect slammed into another uninvolved vehicle at Newlin Avenue and Wardman Street.

Witness video shows the suspect's vehicle engulfed in flames.

The fleeing suspect jumped out of the burning car and tried to run but was quickly captured by officers, Scoggins said.

Firefighters took both the suspect and the other driver to hospitals, Scoggins said.

A police pursuit ended with a fiery crash in Whittier on Feb. 18, 2019, sending both a suspect and an uninvolved motorist to the hospital, officials said. (Credit: KTLA)

A police pursuit ended with a fiery crash in Whittier on Feb. 18, 2019, sending both a suspect and an uninvolved motorist to the hospital, officials said. (Credit: KTLA)

The suspect was being detained at a hospital in stable condition, he said.

Police identified him as 24-year-old Kevin Vargas of Santa Fe Springs. He was expected to be booked into jail on suspicion of crimes including evading police and assault with a deadly weapon once released from the hospital. Police had previously said Vargas was 34.

The other driver struck by the suspect succumbed to his injuries at a hospital, police said.

The California Highway Patrol is handling the investigation into the crash.

Anyone with information can reach Whittier police at 562-567-9255. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Video courtesy of Alexandra Leon.

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