An apparent attempted theft of Tide laundry detergent – a popular target for members of the Bay Area drug culture – from the Lafayette Safeway store ended with a hair-raising chase westbound on Highway 24 and the crash of the suspect’s car on the Oakland side of the Caldecott Tunnel early Monday afternoon.
Officers are still just investigating events leading up to the 1:52 p.m. crash on the Oakland side of the tunnel but they confirmed a red Nissan Sentra was involved in the crash, with a black man and woman seen running from the wreckage shortly after the car collided with at least two others captured by police near the scene. At least one person was taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland with serious injuries, according to police.
The incident apparently started at the Lafayette Safeway store around 1:35 p.m. Monday after a black man and woman accomplice were allegedly seen stealing Tide laundry detergent. Lafayette police were summoned and, as a motorcyle officer attempted to stop a red Nissan Sentra with a black male and woman aboard – the car accessed the westbound Highway 24 on ramp and immediately accelerated to an estimated 100 mph as officers from Orinda fell in behind.
Photo, right: The Sentra. Photo: Eric Rasmussen/KTVU
“It was a blur,” said Henry Freelan, who wrote that he was on the highway at the time. “I’m not even sure what kind of car it was. I could hear a siren and it was clear something was happening. I think it went by on the shoulder…”
Police determined that the car had been stolen. Officers terminated their pursuit at 1:44 p.m. when the Sentra reached speeds of 100 mph on Highway 24 in Orinda. The car was last seen heading into the eastern end of the tunnel. About ten minutes later local fire officials began receiving reports of a multi-car crash on the eastern side of the tunnel, with the occupants of a red Nissan Sentra – a black man and woman – reportedly running from the scene.
Both suspects were captured shortly after the crash. They were taken to Highland Hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the crash.
As of Monday evening police were not saying definitively if the alleged shoplifting and pursuit were related, saying only that the details of events leading up to the pursuit were still being investigated.