Even a global pandemic couldn’t stop police chases in Southern California in 2021.
There were hourslong pursuits across several counties, trucks erupting in flames, and even a fire truck getting taken for a joy ride.
In one wild pursuit, the chase winded up on the runway at LAX. Even for LA, that’s pretty wild.
Here are some of the craziest pursuit moments of 2021.
February 2021: Driver in 90-Minute Cargo Van Pursuit Exchanges a Fist Bump at Intersection
A woman behind the wheel in a cargo van led a pursuit, and at one point exchanged a fist bump with a bystander, before eventually surrendering.
Witnesses often try to capture video, interject or even stop pursuits in Southern California. In this particular chase, a man got out of his car to walk up to the pursuit vehicle.
An hour after the chase began, the driver -- stopped at an intersection -- exchanged a fist bump. Minutes later, the pursuit driver got out of the van and got in the passenger side of a MINI Cooper that drove off. See the story here.
A bizarre, six-hour pursuit that captured the attention of LA sparked a conversation about mental health after the driver's mother apologized for her son's actions.
“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,” Afthemia 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.”
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.
He ultimately stopped on an Ontario freeway.
March 2021:Woman With 9-Year-Old Girl in Car Smashes Into Unsuspecting Drivers After Deputy Hit-and-Run
A driver leading a multi-county chase after a hit-and-run involving a sheriff's department vehicle treated a Diamond Bar roadway like a demolition derby, smashing into unsuspecting drivers before getting trapped behind a car.
The worst of all: a child was inside the car.
After striking many cars with bewildered drivers on the street, the woman behind the wheel engaged in a SWAT standoff.
A 9-year-old girl passenger, later identified as the 30-year-old driver's daughter, exited the sedan in a surprising scene, with a SWAT officer picking her up and carrying her away.
The officer later said his fatherly instincts kicked in when he saw the girl, and he said he just wanted to take care of her.
"She was crying. She was grabbing hold of me. And, I just told her it's ok, it's ok,” he said.
See his full story on his kind reaction in a tense situation here.
March 2021: Flatbed Truck Goes Up in Flames and a Bright White Flash at End of Chase
A pursuit ended in flames and a shower of sparks after a flatbed truck caught fire, forcing the driver to flee.
The chase began on the 57 Freeway near the 210 Freeway in March.
The truck lost a tire, and sparks began to fly. It exploded into a fireball, but the driver refused to stop.
It became engulfed and the driver fled.
But the show wasn't over. The truck exploded into a white flash as as firefighters sprayed flames with water.
June 2021: Man Arrested After Police Pursuit on a Runway at LAX
A man was arrested after breaking through a fence and winding up on the runway at LAX.
The man was driving a four-door car with what appeared to be the letters "SOS" written on the hood. He breached a fence at the FedEx cargo facility. See the full story here.
September 2021: Dashcam Captures Dramatic Police Pursuit of SUV Driver Who Opened Fire at School Bus
A man in an SUV shot at and rammed a school bus in Buena Park, then led an incredibly dangerous pursuit captured on camera this year.
The dash cam video shows the SUV speeding after the school bus and pulling alongside it in heavy traffic on Buena Park streets. The chase began after officers saw the SUV collide with the bus.
The chase ended in a shootout after the SUV crashed in a Buena Park School District parking lot. Officers opened fire, killing the driver. A 6-year-old child and the driver, identified as the man's estranged wife, were on the bus when the SUV pulled alongside and its driver opened fire. The woman and child were not injured in the Sept. 7 shooting and chase. See the full story and video here.
November 2021: Driver of Stolen Big Rig Surrenders After Overnight Freeway Standoff and Eight-Hour Chase
The chase began after the big rig was stolen around 8:14 p.m. from a food service lot at Fifth and Indiana streets in East Los Angeles, the CHP said.
An employee at Individual Food Service in the city of Bell called police to report the tractor trailer he was driving was stolen. CHP began chasing the driver with helicopters and patrol cars. They tried to slow him down with spike strips five times on the Ronald Regan and Ventura freeways, causing blowouts on the rig's front and back tires. But suspect would not give up.
Finally the truck was stopped on the 55 Freeway in Santa Ana at 4 a.m., hours after it began. Read more here.
November 2021: SoCal Chase Driver Interrupts Funeral Service at Church
A driver who led deputies on a 45-minute pursuit in the San Diego area interrupted a funeral service at a church where he was taken into custody at the altar.
Video shows deputies taking a man into custody at the church altar as people attending the funeral service for an 11-year-old boy who died of cancer watch on in shock.
The man was put into handcuffs at the altar and escorted from the church by deputies. He was mumbling things, possibly praying, at the altar before he was detained. See the full story here.
December 2021: Man Steals Fire Truck Outside Hospital, Leading to an Unusual Pursuit in Orange County
December ended the year on a wild note, after a fire truck was stolen in Orange County.
Paramedics parked the vehicle outside UC Irvine Medical Center and as they were dropping a patient off inside, a man hopped inside and took it on a joy ride.
The man led authorities on a chase before a bystander stepped in.
He stood in front of the rig and implored the man to stop the pursuit.
When asked why, he said he was just trying to stop the man behind the wheel from getting shot. See the full story here.