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COP TALES: Watch the pursuit for yourself

Cop Tales are true stories as told by law enforcement officers from all over the country. The stories are told in the first person. The actual officer’s initials follow each story.

Watch it for yourself

I was working for the highway patrol when dispatch advised of a pursuit that was headed in our direction from another highway patrol area. The driver would not stop for anyone until he was blocked by traffic. When he came to a stop, I approached his vehicle and told him to put down his driver’s window. The traffic jam cleared and he took off. The pursuit continued down the freeway before the driver exited onto surface streets.

Just as the fleeing driver entered an intersection at 70 mph, he plowed into several other vehicles. The crash was intense and vehicles flew everywhere. The suspect was not wearing a seatbelt and he was ejected onto the rear window ledge. He was taken to the hospital where he was placed on a life support system for weeks.

We found out later that he had not been drinking at all, but was having mental health issues. His wife had died four days earlier. On the day of our pursuit, he had gone into a bank and the staff felt that he was acting suspiciously and called the sheriff’s department. When the deputy walked in, our suspect ran to his car and fled, with the deputy pursuing. The highway patrol took over the pursuit. No one else was seriously injured in the crash. You can actually watch the pursuit on YouTube.

- DH

That didn’t last long

It was toward the end of my day shift when I received a call of a single vehicle collision at the far north end of my beat, in a very rural part of our area. I went to the location and found a brand new Ford Bronco, that had been towing a brand new 25-foot Airstream trailer, over the side of the freeway. Both the Bronco and the trailer had rolled at least once.

As I started down the embankment toward the Bronco, I was greeted by two mid-20s gentlemen who looked shaken, but otherwise uninjured. They told me they were the occupants of the Bronco, that they were not injured, and no other vehicles were involved. After identifying themselves as Robert and Stephan, they related what had happened. They were graduate students in geology and had procured a grant to do studies in Oregon. The grant included a vehicle and a trailer to park at the lake for the summer while they conducted their studies.

Robert had pulled a trailer before, so he started driving when they left the college that morning. After several hours on the road, they got to a point on the freeway that was flat and straight, so Robert thought it would be a good point for Stephan to try pulling a trailer. Stephan made it about one mile before the trailer started whipping side to side. Robert told him to slow down so Stephan slammed on the brakes and the entire rig rolled over and down the embankment.

A side note is that when I looked inside the trailer, I noted it was full of about 20 garbage bags stuffed with empty soda and beer cans. Robert explained that they were taking them up to Oregon since they could get 5 cents a can for them. What he had failed to fully research was that Oregon had enacted a 5-cent per can recycling law at that time, but other states didn’t have that system. Without the Oregon recycle mark on the cans, they couldn’t be recycled in Oregon. Their summer trip ended within three hours of starting.

- DG

How many?

One of the benefits of being a motorcycle officer for the highway patrol is that you get to take your motorcycle home. Many nights, I would observe an impaired driver on the way to or from work. If I arrested someone, I would just call the local highway patrol and they would take over the case to conclusion.

One night, I left work and as I was going down the freeway, I noticed a car weaving severely over two lanes. I attempted to stop the vehicle, but he would not stop. He exited the freeway and continued to drive on several streets before he finally pulled into a residential driveway at the end of a cul-de-sac.

When he stopped, he almost fell out of his car as he was severely impaired. I arrested him and called for a local patrol unit. While I was waiting for the other officer, an older woman with a robe on and curlers in her hair came out of her house while smoking a cigarette and approached me. She then asked, “He is drunk, isn’t he?” I told her it appeared that way and her response floored me. She replied, “Well, if you wait a while, his wife will be coming down the street and she will be drunk too. This happens just about every night, and I don’t like them.”

Sure enough, another vehicle approached and the lady said, “There she is and she’ll be drunk too.” The car tried to pull into the driveway, but missed it by a couple of feet and ended up on the lawn. I went over to the car, and you guessed it, she too was very drunk. I arrested her and I then had two in custody.

My “backup neighbor” then said, “If you wait a while, their son will be coming home and he will be drunk too.” I thought it would be too good to be true. The other patrol car arrived and as they were taking the husband and wife, the neighbor yelled, “Here he comes.” As we looked up, the son approached and actually struck a trashcan on the street. The end of the story resulted in three drunks off the road, three happy cops, and a very happy next-door neighbor.

- GG

Brian Smith served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and retired as an assistant chief with the California Highway Patrol. He resides in Bakersfield. If you have a personal “Cop Tale” to share, please contact Smith at