Afthemia Patsalos was watching Monday’s six-hour Los Angeles pursuit like many Southern Californians when she received a phone call from her son.
He was behind the wheel of the rented Chevy Malibu on her TV.
“He was in a rental car, and I was like, 'What color is the rental car?' Silver Malibu. Oh my God, this is my son,” Patsalos said, recalling her reaction. “He said he didn’t know what was going on. There were a bunch of cops, everybody’s after him.”
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The pursuit that began in a South Los Angeles neighborhood continued for hours on streets and freeways in Los Angeles. It ended more than six hours later about 40 miles east of the city when the car, missing at least one tire and a wheel, came to a stop in a shower of sparks.
An already complex situation was complicated by uncertainty over whether the driver was armed, one reason authorities said they did not try a PIT maneuver in an attempt to spin the car.
The pursuit started around 7 p.m. in response to a report of a man with a gun, according to the LAPD. During a reckless driving traffic stop, the driver refused to get out of the car and eventually sped away, police said.
Police later said no weapon was found.
The San Pedro man's family called police during the pursuit, providing his name and saying that he suffers from mental illness, police said.
Patsalos said she believes her son was having a mental health episode. She thanked police for bringing the pursuit to a peaceful end. The driver was allowed to communicate with a brother during the chase.
Click here for a list of Southern California mental health resources.
“The police department was very helpful,” Patasalos said. “I’m thankful for their compassion and working with my son. I’m sorry that everyone had to go through that.”
Her son surrendered on the 10 Freeway in Ontario and was taken into custody.
The 35-year-old driver was arrested on suspicion of felony evading. Jail records did not indicate an initial court date.