On December 28, 2019 at approximately 11:07 pm, Officer Khae Saelee observed a blue 2007 Dodge Caravan near the intersection of Hilltop Drive and E. Palisades Avenue, driving through the parking lots of closed businesses with the headlights off. He suspected the occupants were engaged in criminal activity and attempted to investigate. Officer Saelee provided SHASCOM the license plate of the vehicle and found it to be reported stolen to the Red Bluff Police Department. Officer Saelee attempted to conduct a traffic stop, but the van fled southbound Hilltop Drive.
Officers continued to purse the van on Hilltop, west on Cypress Avenue then southbound on Interstate 5. Assistance was requested from the California Highway Patrol for both ground units and Air support. A CHP helicopter immediately responded to assist.
The pursuit continued south on I-5 and exited briefly in Anderson at North Street, then turned southbound on Ventura Street before getting back on southbound I-5. At Deschutes Road, the van again exited and traveled westbound to State Route 273, then turned southbound on State Route 273 and eventually reentered I-5 southbound.
During the pursuit officers could see multiple people inside the van. The driver was running stop signs and stop lights and crossing into oncoming traffic lanes.
Officers continued to pursue the vehicle into downtown Cottonwood, then westbound on Bowman Road. At some point in the pursuit the van sustained damage to the left front wheel and tire causing it to go flat and eventually fall off. The van became disabled on Bowman Rd. at Landes Road. The occupants surrendered and were taken into custody without incident.
All the occupants were juveniles ranging in age from 11 to 15 years old. Two were reported as runaways, one out of Shasta County and the other out of Red Bluff P.D. The female driver, who was 14 years old, was booked at the Shasta County Juvenile Hall for vehicle theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, felony evasion, and reckless driving. The other juveniles were released to their parents and no charges are being filed on them. None of the juveniles’ names are being released due to their age.
The pursuit lasted 18 minutes and covered 21.5 miles. Speeds reached 114 miles per hour on the freeway and 75 miles per hour on city streets. During this time there was very little vehicle traffic and no pedestrians in the area.