The driver of a stolen vehicle who was fleeing deputies crashed into a gardener, killing him, and then struck several parked vehicles, causing another crash and a fire in a series of events that left PCH in Malibu shut down for hours on Wednesday morning.
The driver, whose vehicle burst into flames, was pulled from the burning stolen Mazda 6 by responding deputies, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Bob Boese.
The incident began about 7:50 a.m. when a deputy patrolling Zuma Beach spotted the stolen car. The deputy made a U-turn and began following the driver while calling for backup.
A sergeant and another deputy joined the chase and "initiated a traffic stop," Boese said. The Mazda pulled over and a female passenger got out – but then the driver sped away again.
For 15 to 20 seconds, sheriff's vehicles pursued the Mazda but the on-scene supervisor canceled the chase because of the Mazda's high rate of speed and "erratic" driving, Boese said.
Moments later, the Mazda crashed into a pedestrian in the 27500 block of Pacific Coast Highway, and then into three parked vehicles. The parked vehicle crash caused another collision with a truck traveling on PCH.
Deputies saw a "fireball in the sky" and arrived to find the Mazda aflame and pulled the driver out, the sergeant said.
Described as a white man about 22 years old who is linked to various addresses in Santa Monica and Venice, the driver was taken to a hospital for treatment, Boese said. Deputies were treated on scene for possible smoke inhalation.
The pedestrian victim, who was killed instantly, has been identified by authorities only as a 28-year-old Hispanic man who is not a Malibu resident. Residents in the neighborhood of multimillion-dollar homes said the victim was a popular gardener in the area.
He was taking trash out of a residence when he was killed, Boese said.
The passenger who got out of the Mazda has been taken into custody as a "witness," Boese said.
The Mazda was stolen from the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific Division area, according to the sergeant.
Still an ongoing active traffic collision investigation at the 27500 block of PCH in Malibu. PCH closed between Winding way and Via Escondido Drive until approximately 4PM
— Sergeant Bob (@LASDBob) November 29, 2017