A beat-up pickup left a trail of havoc in its wake Friday afternoon, plowing through at least a dozen cars in three separate crashes as El Paso County Sheriff’s deputies chased it.
About 12:45 p.m., the deputies were called by a woman saying someone she knew was stealing gasoline from her vehicle, sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby said. The man fled in a pickup from East Blaney Road and Garrett Road, in eastern El Paso County, all the way to Austin Bluffs Parkway, crossing jurisdictional lines between the county and the city of Colorado Springs.
It was sheriff’s cruisers, however, that pursued the truck, Kirby said. Four sheriff’s vehicles were involved in the crashes, and one deputy was hospitalized with injuries that Kirby said were not life-threatening.
As deputies chased, the pickup caused a five-car pileup at Barnes Road and Austin Bluffs. Several cars appeared totaled, but Kirby said there were no serious injuries. Initial reports said the chase hit speeds of 60 mph, Kirby said.
The pickup careened down Austin Bluffs Parkway, causing a second crash. A deputy vehicle slammed into 48-year-old Bill Szary’s truck at Siferd Boulevard. Szary was uninjured in the wreck.
“The sheriff ... spun him out in front of me, put him on the median ... I thought he missed me until the sheriff’s car came around,” he said.
The chase ended about 2 p.m., after the pickup ran a red light at Austin Bluffs Parkway and North Academy Boulevard, causing crashes involving at least seven cars. A woman driving a black Nissan Altima slammed by the truck was taken to a hospital due to a heart condition, a witness said.
Seventeen-year-old Tayler Prekop, a student at Doherty High School, was in the passenger seat of a white Ford that was hit in the North Academy Boulevard crash. The airbags deployed, hitting her and the driver, 17-year-old J.R. Smith, also a Doherty student. They were out of school early — on their way to pick up a birthday gift for Smith’s grandmother.
“I’m just glad we’re OK,” Prekop said.
Deputies swarmed the truck at North Academy Boulevard, a witness’s cellphone video shows. They pried a man and woman from the cab and arrested them.
“They will be facing multiple charges,” Kirby said. The suspects names were not released.
Prekop said a woman, who appeared to be the man’s mother, came to the scene of the third crash. She was crying and begging for police not to arrest him, Prekop said.
The chase and crashes tangled traffic, closing lanes on Austin Bluffs, city officials tweeted.
Drivers were encouraged to avoid the area as the investigation was expected to last several hours, Kirby said.
Reach Olivia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @oliviaprentzel