Police were called to the scene of a theft at a car dealership on Friday, May 21st, when they spotted a stolen vehicle and began a pursuit. After a high-speed chase, the suspect died in a fiery collision with a utility pole.
The Crime and Chase
An 18-year-old suspect in a car theft in Houston passed away on Friday at the end of a high-speed chase with police.
Police say they received reports of several people attempting to steal cars from a dealership in the early hours of Friday, May 21. Police spotted a stolen Dodge Challenger while en route to the dealership on the Eastex Freeway near Will Clayton Parkway.
The police started their pursuit of the southbound vehicle but reportedly lost sight of the suspect when the Challenger’s speeds reached up to 120 mph. Only later did they discover the stolen vehicle had collided with a utility pole on the Hardy Feeder Road.
The Challenger caught fire, and while police were able to pull the suspect from the vehicle, he later succumbed to his injuries at a hospital.
According to investigators, the suspect was fleeing down the Beltway at a high rate of speed when he attempted to turn onto the Hardy Toll Road’s southbound lanes. At this point, the driver lost control of the vehicle, leading to the fiery collision.
According to police, several suspects were involved in the theft at the car dealership. The suspects had reportedly managed to gain possession of a key lockbox, and they were in the process of attempting to steal several cars from the dealership when they were spotted.
As of Friday morning, none of the other suspects involved in the theft had been caught, and the police have reported that no other vehicles were removed from the lot.
The identity of the deceased suspect has not been released at this time.
Deadly Police Chases in Texas: Risk vs. Reward
The question of whether or not police chases are worth the risk they pose to bystanders is a difficult one to answer. Texas law largely gives the responsibility for making this decision to individual police. While some cities, like Dallas, have local laws stating that police should consider other options for catching suspects before choosing to make a chase, authorities in other areas of the state feel as though it is their responsibility to chase any suspect who breaks the law.
Determining whether or not a police chase is warranted is difficult in a court of law, much less during the actual stressful event. However, the laws in certain cities state that, before initiating a chase, it’s worth considering the relative risk posed by the crimes the suspect might commit versus the risk posed by a high-speed chase through a populated area.
This issue has long been controversial in the U.S., and in Texas especially. Unfortunately, the relative frequency of police chase-involved car accidents in the state makes this debate a necessary one to have.
In 2019 alone, there were nearly 2,000 car accidents caused by vehicles fleeing or evading police. That corresponds to more than 5 accidents per day. While it’s true that not all of those accidents were caused by police chases specifically, the rate at which these accidents occur is still cause for alarm.
If you’ve been injured in a police-involved car accident in Texas, contact the Houston car accident attorneys of Lapeze and Johns to learn about your options.