Four people were hospitalized after a violent multivehicle crash involving a stolen pickup truck that was trying to evade police in Lake Balboa on Wednesday morning, authorities said.
Shortly after 9 a.m., Los Angeles Police Department officers tried to initiate a traffic stop on the truck after a caller linked it to an alleged vehicle burglary that occurred the previous day in the Topanga area, according to LAPD Capt. Steve Embrich.
The 2017 Toyota Tacoma was headed northbound on Balboa Boulevard when the driver – apparently aware of the police patrol car’s flashing lights and sirens – allegedly sped up and ran a red light at Vanowen Street, Embrich said.
The pickup crashed into a Honda and triggered a chain-reaction collision involving four other vehicles and 10 people total, according to the captain.
One of the victims, a woman in her 20s, was behind the wheel of the Honda and became trapped inside her car. She was rescued by Los Angeles Fire Department personnel who performed a “difficult” extrication, Embrich said.
She was transported to a local hospital in critical condition and underwent surgery. At one point, she stopped breathing but paramedics were able to revive her.
Three other people, all occupants of the pickup, were also transported, including the driver after he tried to flee the crash site by going into a nearby McDonald’s, according to Embrich.
The driver was taken into custody following what the captain described as a minor use of force incident inside the restaurant.
Police officials did not provide conditions on any of the occupants of the truck, which was stolen out of Marina del Rey.
In addition to those injured inside the vehicles, two pedestrians were also hurt when they were hit by flying debris.
Most of the block where the wreck occurred was covered in shards of glass and metal, Sky5 video showed.
Embrich called the crash one of the worst he’s seen in his lengthy career.
“It’s a terrible collision,” he said. “This is a very serious accident. In 25 years, I’ve probably only seen a couple that were worse than this.”
The captain also clarified some earlier information put out by the department that the crash took place while officers were in pursuit of the truck. That was not the case, he said, as the wreck happened moments after police initiated the traffic stop.
“Had this collision not occurred, the officers probably would have gone into pursuit of this vehicle,” Embrich explained.
During the investigation, police also found a firearm inside the truck. The gun accidentally discharged when an officer tried to remove it, but no one was hurt.
KTLA's Alexandria Hernandez contributed to this report.