A surveillance camera captured the moment a man fleeing police crossed into oncoming traffic and plowed a suspected stolen vehicle into an innocent couple’s white BMW, causing it to burst into flames.
The incident occurred around 12:20 a.m. in the 300 block of East Slauson Avenue. Police told KTLA that the pursuit began in the 1000 block of South Central Avenue and lasted about a minute before it came to a fiery end.
“It’s crazy. I’m not surprised. This area is pretty dangerous,” Tomas Cervantes, who works in South L.A., told KTLA. “It’s always been like that around here.”
The suspect, 37-year-old Gustavo Roman, and the victims, 24-year-old Dayna Torres and 23-year-old Melvin Garcia, managed to escape their burning vehicles.
Torres and Garcia were both taken to the hospital. The suspect was taken into custody and eventually booked for felony evading.
Garcia later spoke with KTLA by phone, saying he had gone to pick up his girlfriend from work and that they were just about home when they saw pursuit coming toward them. He said they tried to get out of the way, but the suspect’s car hit them head-on.
As for their injuries, Torres has an appointment with a doctor tomorrow to find out if his foot is broken. He said his foot got stuck while trying to get out of the vehicle. His girlfriend had to get stitches in her head and is experiencing pain in her hips. Doctors are keeping her in the hospital overnight while they determine if she has any internal bleeding.
Some people who live and work near Slauson Avenue and San Pedro Place say pursuits in the area are becoming more common.
“There’s always been a major accident, somebody getting hurt or killed,” Ronald Smith, a security guard in the area, said.
A recent study by the L.A. Police Commission found that half the people injured in LAPD pursuits are bystanders and that 1 out of every 4 LAPD pursuits end with an injury or a death.