A 22-year-old Big Pine man was killed late Thursday evening during a short, high-speed pursuit west of Bishop.
John Ericson, Jr. suffered fatal injuries when he lost control of his vehicle while allegedly fleeing from local authorities.
According to the California Highway Patrol, an officer attempted to make a traffic stop on a 2005 Nissan traveling at about 80 miles per hour on Brockman Lane at 11:04 p.m.
The CHP reported that the subject, later identified as Ericson, “accelerated and began to flee at a high rate of speed.”
The pursuit continued east on West Line Street, then southbound on Barlow Lane. CHP Public Information Officer Dennis Cleland said the chase reached speeds of about 100 miles per hour before Ericson turned west on Bir (Chipmunk Canyon) Road “and continued at approximately 80 miles per hour, until he was unable to negotiate a curve to the right.”
Cleland said Ericson lost control of the vehicle, traveling off the south roadway edge and into open desert where it struck “several large boulders,” ejecting the driver. at 11:06 p.m.
Cleland said CHP dispatch immediately called out an ambulance and EMTs. Symons Ambulance personnel declared Ericson dead at the scene at 11:18 p.m., Cleland said.
Cleland noted Ericson was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the collision.
Cleland said one officer was involved in the pursuit until the collision, at which time seven other officers arrived at the scene.
The CHP has no policy regarding high-speed pursuits in residential areas, and Cleland said officers are asked to use their own discretion in such circumstances. Cleland explained that, if officers are able to identify a vehicle, they will often follow a fleeing suspect from a distance and “would not try to be right on the bumper” of the fleeing vehicle. In this case, he added, the pursuing officer was able to give dispatch a description of the vehicle, but the license plate was not given to dispatch until after the collision.
The pursuit and collision are under investigation by the CHP Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team.