Palm Tree Stops Driver in High-Speed Pursuit

The Toyota 4Runner was sought in connection with a hit-and-run crash Thursday

A driver crashed over a median and slammed head-on into a palm tree at the end of a pursuit that reached speeds above 90 mph southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

The pursuit of a Toyota 4Runner driver, who was swerving across freeway lanes at high speed and dodging through traffic, began at 8 a.m. in the Montebello area. The driver exited onto the 5 and 605 freeways southeast of downtown Los Angeles, speeding on the shoulder of the freeway with cruisers in pursuit.

The driver exited at Florence Avenue, struck a median and slammed into a palm tree, caving in the front metal bumper of the rugged SUV and knocking the tall tree onto the street. He immediately got out of the vehicle with his hands in the air and was taken into custody.

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Police identified the man as Brandon Rodolfo Rivas, 22, of Montebello.

The vehicle was involved in an earlier pursuit Thursday night. Montebello officers saw it being driven recklessly and attempted to pull it over, according to Lt. Michael Flores. The SUV refused to yield and headed into adjacent Pico Rivera, where it was involved in a misdemeanor hit and run in which property was damaged, said Flores. At some point the pursuit was terminated with the vehicle still at large.

Dayside shift officers were briefed on what had happened, including vehicle information, and officers spotted it around 8 a.m. Friday, Flores said. Once gain officers attempted a traffic stop, and once again the SUV failed to pull over, and once gain police took up pursuit, but this time, with the assistance of the palm tree, Rivas was apprehended.   

Superior Court records show that in the past four years Rivas had been arrested and charged with a variety of offenses. In fact, in a case involving an alleged vehicle code violation, Rivas was scheduled to appear for arraignment in the East Los Angeles courthouse Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. -- five minutes after the encounter with the Santa Fe Springs Palm Tree.

It's not known if Rivas was driving to court when the pursuit began.

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