Motorists used to seeing just about everything in their travels along the 24/680 watched in amazement Thursday after a high-speed pursuit turned into a wrong-way driving exhibition intended to throw off pursuers.
Officers from several police agencies terminated the chase, which kicked off around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, after the driver of a white U-Haul truck began traveling the wrong way on westbound Highway 24 – finally disappearing the wrong way down the Orinda on-ramp.
Police said the threat to the driving public increased incrementally during various stages of the pursuit and their decision to suspend the chase was made to decrease the chances of possible harm to innocents.
Valley Station Commander Lt. Jason Haynes filled in a few details on the origin of the chase Thursday, confirming a near miss by the driver of the involved truck on one of his sergeants.
Haynes said the incident begin at 9:29 a.m. when Patrol Sergeant Foley was checking on a suspicious vehicle in the Iron Horse Trail Parking lot located at S. California at Rudgear Rd. in unincorporated Walnut Creek.
The vehicle was a white U-Haul pick-up truck that appeared unoccupied, Haynes reported in a release to this site. He wrote that Sgt. Foley approached the vehicle on foot, noticed a purse in the vehicle and then noticed a white female adult walking from the truck. Haynes said Foley verbally contacted the woman at which time a man entered the driver side of the pickup, started the truck and drove directly toward Sergeant Foley – forcing him to move out of the path of the vehicle to avoid being struck. The female then quickly ran to the truck and jumped into the passenger side when the vehicle slowed, according to Haynes.
The truck sped away with Foley in pursuit. The officer said the driver attempted to enter the freeway in the wrong direction but was blocked by exiting traffic. Foley pursued the U-Haul as it entered northbound 680 until the vehicle performed a U-turn on the freeway and began driving in the wrong direction – at which time Foley terminated the pursuit.
The same vehicle was later seen traveling at a high rate of speed on westbound Highway 24 and was again pursued by Lafayette police when it again made a U-Turn and drove against traffic nearly colliding with the pursuing police car. The pursuit was again terminated for public safety purposes in the area of W/B Highway 24 near the Wilder Ranch exit, according to police.
The unoccupied truck was located a couple hours later in the 20 block of Oakwood Rd. in Orinda. Witnesses reported seeing two people running from the scene but the man and woman believed involved in the incident were not found.
There were no injuries or collisions reported as a result of the pursuit. Anyone having information related to the driver and/or passenger of the vehicle is encouraged to call the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff dispatch at 925-646-2441.