Authorities: 101 Freeway Pursuit Suspect Had Unwilling Passenger

A pursuit suspect had picked up a transient who wanted out of the car, according to CHP

By Jonathan Lloyd, Melissa Pamer and Rosa Ordaz
|  Friday, Sep 28, 2012  |  Updated 4:08 PM PDT
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A pursuit that began in the Ventura area came to stop in heavy traffic early Friday in Hollywood. Raw Video

A pursuit that began in the Ventura area came to stop in heavy traffic early Friday in Hollywood. Raw Video

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The suspect vehicle in a high-speed freeway chase on the southbound Ventura (101) Freeway through the San Fernando Valley contained a passenger who repeatedly asked the driver to free her, according to authorities.

The driver, identified as Michael Stinchfield of the Santa Barbara area, had picked up a female transient in the Ventura area, according to California Highway Patrol officer Saul Gomez.

The woman repeatedly asked to be let out of the car as the chase reached speeds of more than 100 mph.

Stinchfield, who Gomez said was about 50, was arrested after the pursuit ended amid heavy traffic on the 101 Freeway in Hollywood. He was held on suspicion of felony evasion and false imprisonment.

The pursuit started at about 7:40 a.m. in the Ventura area after officers noticed a reckless driver and tried to pull him over to the right shoulder.

Stinchfield allegedly sped away, Gomez said.

Speeds reached 90 to 100 mph, according to authorities. The driver was forced to slow -- even stop -- once the pursuit reached morning traffic in the Sherman Oaks area.

"The more cars around, the bigger the challenge," said CHP spokesperson Ming Hsu. "We're not going to put anybody else's life in danger."

The pursuit ended on the southbound 101 Freeway near the Gower Street exit. High-volume traffic was ahead of the driver as morning commuters headed into downtown Los Angeles.

When the car stopped, the passenger was able to escape the vehicle, Gomez said. Initially, both the driver and passenger were taken into custody.

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