A short police pursuit of a stolen car in San Bernardino Tuesday morning ended in a fatal crash that killed an innocent driver who was headed home from working an overnight shift.
The pursuit began about 4:42 a.m. when officers tried to stop a stolen car they had spotted being driven near the intersection of West Baseline Road and North Sierra Way, San Bernardino Police Department Lt. Rich Lawhead said.
The car accelerated and eventually went onto the 215 Freeway with officers in pursuit, Lawhead said.
Only about five minutes after the chase began, the car exited the freeway on Fifth Street and struck a vehicle that was headed eastbound, Lawhead said.
The suspect’s car hit the driver’s door and nearly split the vehicle in half.
An “innocent driver,” a man in his 30s, was killed in the crash, according to Lawhead.
“It’s the worst scenario that plays out: somebody innocent gets hurt,” Lawhead said. “We have to strike a balance. … We want to stop the criminal … but we don’t want innocent lives lost in the process.”
A close friend told KTLA the victim was Cornelius “Corn” Holly of Victorville, saying the man had just gotten off his graveyard shift and was headed home when the crash occurred.
Two men who were in the stolen car were taken into custody following the crash.
The driver was identified by Lawhead as 18-year-old Damian Garcia of San Bernardino. The passenger was Ricardo Cerda, 21, also of San Bernardino.
Relatives of the pursuit suspects and the victim went to the crash scene but did not want to speak to reporters.
KTLA’s Jennifer Thang and Melissa Pamer contributed to this report.