NOVATO (CBS SF) — A passenger in a vehicle fleeing from California Highway Patrol officers in Novato was killed early Wednesday morning when the vehicle collided with a traffic light after exiting a freeway.
The Marin County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday afternoon identified the passenger who died as 18-year-old Santa Rosa resident Agustin Rojas-Rodriguez.READ MORE: Flames Reach Ancient Sequoias; Crews in Pitched Battle to Save Giant Forest Grove
Three other suspects managed to flee from officers and are being sought.
The CHP said in a press release Wednesday the incident began at around 1:45 a.m. when offices at the northbound U.S Highway 101 truck scales in Terra Linda saw a Toyota Avalon pass by them at a high rate of speed. The officers gave chase and caught up to the vehicle, initiating an enforcement stop at the Lucas Valley Road exit and the driver yielded at the offramp, the CHP said.
Shortly after stopping, two passengers bolted from the car and ran from the scene. As officers began chase, they saw the Toyota drive away from the scene so they returned to their patrol vehicle and began chasing the vehicle, the CHP said. The Toyota was not spotted but officers observed a plume of dirt and dust at the end of the Bel Marin Keys offramp which they suspected might be the vehicle, according to the CHP.READ MORE: PG&E Says Light Rain After Long Drought Led to Lights-Out Across Bay Area
Officers returned to the offramp and found the Toyota with major collision damage after striking a stop light, with the driver having fled the scene on foot heading south toward a Safeway shopping center, the CHP said. A Marin County Sheriff deputy discovered a passenger in the left rear seat with major injuries and unresponsive. Despite life-saving measures by the deputy and by paramedics, the passenger was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sheriff’s deputies and Novato police officers assisted CHP officers in the search for the driver. A CHP helicopter was also deployed but a thorough search of the area did not turn up the driver. The two passengers that first fled from the vehicle were also still outstanding. The driver is not believed to be armed and at no time were they considered a danger to the public, the CHP said.
The Bel Marin Keys intersection where the crash happened was closed until about 10:30 a.m. Investigators urged anyone who saw the crash to call Officer Kevin Giannone at (415)924-1100.MORE NEWS: Woman Fatally Shot, Another Wounded Outside Pittsburg 7-Eleven Store