A 48-year-old Victorville man was arrested after allegedly stealing a big rig and leading authorities on a chase that spanned two counties and multiple freeways and highways, finally ending near Palm Springs Tuesday afternoon.
The driver was identified as James Edgley, who was booked into the West Valley Detention Center on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle and felony evading, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Edgley surrendered after pulling the big rig over at a rest area northwest of Palm Springs around 1:40 p.m., nearly five hours after the Sheriff’s Department first received a report that a truck stolen out of Barstow was in Apple Valley.
The chase began when deputies tried to stop the truck along Cahuilla Road in Apple Valley, and driver refused to yield, according to the Sheriff’s Department. The California Highway Patrol eventually took over the chase as it passed the Oak Hills area.
From the 15 Freeway, the truck moved to the 60 Freeway and ended up on the eastbound 10, a CHP official told KTLA. It went from San Bernardino County into Riverside County, eventually taking pursuing CHP officers up state Route 62 toward Yucca Valley.
By 12:40 p.m., the driver was nearing Palm Springs as at least three CHP vehicles followed behind it, Sky5 aerial footage showed.
KTLA’s helicopter lost its signal shortly after that.
Around 1:30 p.m., the aerial footage picked up again, at which point the driver was on the southbound state Route 62 near Morongo Valley, having turned around on the highway.
The driver soon pulled over at the Whitewater rest stop off the 10 Freeway. He got out with his arms over his head, kneeled on the ground and was placed in handcuffs.
At one point during the chase, the driver spoke with CHP officials by phone, telling them he “didn’t want to go back to jail,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The big rig he drove bore a logo for ACT Enviro, a Bay Area transportation company that helps businesses with their “hazardous waste and environmental management needs,” according to the company’s website.
Authorities said the trailer could potentially be carrying hazardous material, and had a placard indicating as much, the Times reported.
But on its website, ACT Enviro said in a statement that the truck was carrying 78 drums of “non-flammable, non-radioactive debris primarily from laboratory and manufacturing research and development processes.”
The truck was coming from Sunnyvale, south of San Francisco, and was bound for Nevada when it was stolen, the company said.
The thief disabled a GPS device on board, but the company was able to locate the truck using a secondary, built-in device, ACT said. The information was forwarded to law enforcement.
The statement continued:
Mercifully and thankfully, the pursuit came to a peaceful conclusion just before 1:45 pm Pacific Time. We commend the professionalism of the California Highway Patrol in bringing this to a peaceful resolution and extend them our sincerest thanks.
KTLA’s Steve Bien contributed to this report.