Antioch police car slams into home

March 10, 2009 5:32:31 PM PDT
An Antioch police officer was seriously injured when his police cruiser plowed into a home in Pittsburg Monday night during a high-speed chase through a residential neighborhood.

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The chase started in Antioch late Monday night and ended in the front rooms of a home on West Leland Road in Pittsburg. Three people were inside.

The officer involved in the accident is recovering from serious injuries at John Muir Hospital. In the meantime, the house he hit is uninhabitable.

The mangled shell of a police cruiser was pulled from the front of the Pittsburg home. The car careened into the house after the officer driving it lost control during a high-speed chase.

The driver, described as a 6-year veteran of the Antioch force, was one of at least two Antioch officers chasing a parolee for several miles through four cities.

One witness said the police cruiser hit a dip in the road, lost control and then hit a house. "I don't think he realized there was a dip in there and how deep it was, but there's a pretty deep dip there," witness Tina Owens told ABC7.

"The vehicle subsequently turned on its side and caught fire," said Lt. Brian Arrington, Pittsburg police spokesman. "The officer was trapped inside his vehicle. At this point, several Pittsburg police officers had arrived on scene."

The arriving officers quickly put out the fire, but it took firefighters more than 30 minutes to pull the injured officer from the car with the jaws of life. He was airlifted to John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek. The three adults inside the home were not injured.

The suspect, 36-year-old David Cole, was arrested by police about one hour after the accident. He had abandoned a stolen Honda Civic and was found hiding in some bushes in Antioch. He was taken away in an ambulance after he was bitten by a police dog. Police say they are very familiar with Cole who was on parole for burglary.

He is now charged with felony evading arrest, drug possession and possession of a stolen car. The chase began in Antioch and covered several miles. At one point, according to police, Cole got onto Highway 242 traveling in the wrong direction.

Pamela Goodman of Pittsburg says police should slow their pursuits when they enter residential neighborhoods. "It's endangering our children. It's endangering the disabled, people on bikes and everything else," she told ABC7.

Investigators will determine whether the Antioch officer followed his department's policy for high-speed chases in this instance. The accident is being investigated by Pittsburg Police and the Contra Costa District Attorney's office.

According to Pittsburg Lt. Arrington, the protocol requires officers to consider speed, roadway conditions and the seriousness of the offense in question when embarking on a high-speed pursuit.

The residents of the home are receiving help from the Red Cross.

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