Pursuit Suspect Collides with Three Vehicles, Injuring Two People

The suspect animatedly spoke with reporters while handcuffed and bent over a squad car

By Samantha Tata and Kim Baldonado
|  Saturday, Jun 16, 2012  |  Updated 6:00 PM PDT
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A driver led police on a high-speed chase over freeways and surface streets Friday, before colliding with three vehicles in Hollywood, where he was taken into custody. A woman and a toddler were injured, but were conscious and talking on the scene.  Kim Baldonado reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on June 15, 2012.

Kim Baldonado, Sue Monroe

A driver led police on a high-speed chase over freeways and surface streets Friday, before colliding with three vehicles in Hollywood, where he was taken into custody. A woman and a toddler were injured, but were conscious and talking on the scene. Kim Baldonado reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on June 15, 2012.

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Two people, including a 3-year-old boy, were taken to the hospital after a police pursuit suspect crashed into two vehicles minutes before an hour-long chase that started in Burbank ended on Hollywood surface streets Friday night.

The boy was complaining of back pain after the car he was travelling in with his parents was struck by the suspect and flipped over, according to officials at the scene. The woman who was transported was complaining of chest bone pain.

Both were conscious and talking at the scene, officials said. No CHP officers were injured, according to a tweet from the agency.

“I just remember swerving away from a car coming at me and then I just rolled over," said Bryant Valencia, the boy's father.

"When everything stopped, I just remembered looking at my son hanging upside down from his car seat. My wife was screaming hysterical."

In all, the suspect collided with three vehicles, one on the freeway and two on the Hollywood side street where the pursuit ended.

The suspect seemed to relish the attention he was receiving from reporters following his arrest, speaking with news outlets while bent over the hood of a squad car.

The man who told reporters he was 24-year-old Vardan Aslanyan from Hollywood was wide-eyed as the answered questions.

When asked if he knew he had injured people, the suspect replied: "Do you know I have swag?"

The suspect told reporters that he would "never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever disrespect law enforcement."

"Running is not a good thing," he said.

When told he hurt a child, the man responded: "I apologize, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I would never disrespect no one's child."

Still, moments later his attitude seemed to shift. Asked why he didn't stop, the man replied: "Stop? Why stop? Why stop when I'm an artist?"

An off-duty officer saw the driver of a dark Mercedes driving erratically and run a stop sign near Kenneth Road and Uclan Drive in Burbank, said Sgt. Daniel Mayreis with Burbank police.

The officer then yelled to the driver and a "minor confrontation" ensued, Mayreis said. When the driver took off, a police helicopter began following the vehicle.

Police attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle near Glen Oaks when the driver took off, Mayreis said. The pursuit started around 7:45 p.m.

The driver was wanted on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to California Highway Patrol officials.

The pursuit, which at times travelled in excess of 100 mph, ended near Vine Street and Yucca Street in Hollywood, snarling back road traffic.

A crowd of people, including a child, could be seen surrounding damaged vehicles near the scene. It was not immediately clear if they were inside the vehicles at the time of the collision.

Multiple freeways were involved in the pursuit, including the 118 in both directions, the southbound 5 Freeway, southbound 170 Freeway and the southbound 101 Freeway.

When the driver first hopped onto the westbound 118 freeway, all lanes were clear, but as the pursuit continued and transitioned freeways, traffic became heavier.

While on the eastbound 118 Freeway, the driver was using all lanes to dodge traffic.

At one point, the driver stopped on the southbound 170 Freeway south of Victory Boulevard in the Burbank area. After about one minute, the driver took off again and transitioned to the 101 Freeway.

Heading into Hollywood, traffic became significantly denser, at times trapping the driver behind a line of vehicles.

The driver used the emergency lane on the southbound 101 toward Hollywood. In his attempt to get around the packed lanes, the driver crashed into a vehicle and the center divider.

After that collision, a trail of smoke followed the car and the driver's side wheel appeared twisted. The suspect drove the car, wheel smoking, into the heart of Hollywood via the Highland Avenue exit of the southbound 101 Freeway.

The pursuit wound through tight Hollywood surface streets, at times coming within close distance of surrounding cars.

The driver crashed into at least two vehicles while travelling on Yucca Street near Argyle Avenue. Shortly after the collisions, the driver stopped under a freeway overpass prompting officers to draw their guns and slowly approach the vehicle.

A spike strip was laid down underneath the parked car, apparently as a precaution against his taking off again.

Officers dragged the suspect out of the vehicle through the passenger side door and laid him on the spike strip when they took him into custody.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Aslanyan's name as Vartan Aslanian.

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