WEST COVINA (CBSLA) — A stolen van being chased by police took out a power pole and sheared a hydrant Tuesday, causing a power outage in West Covina.

El Monte police began chasing the van at about 2:30 a.m. when the driver would not stop, prompting a police pursuit that got onto the 605 and 10 freeways. When the van got back onto surface streets, it crashed into a power pole and sheared a hydrant, causing a 30-foot geyser, at Merced and Sunset avenues.

Police say the suspect tried to run off, but was eventually taken into custody. Luis Barcelo, 24, of Baldwin Park, was later booked on suspicion of grand theft auto.

(credit: CBS)

The crash at Merced and Sunset caused traffic signals to stop working and was initially blamed for possibly causing another crash at Sunset and Francisquito about a mile away. At Sunset and Francisquito avenues, a black SUV and a medical van collided, sending the SUV crashing into the front yard of a home and overturning the medical van.

There were reports that people in both vehicles were temporarily trapped. Authorities have since determined the two crashes were not related, but simply a coincidence due to happening just minutes of each other.

The crash cut power to a nearby clinic, which in turn was forced to send patients away for the day due to the power outage.

“We’re a really busy office, we see about 60 patients a day. So having them have to reschedule, either go to urgent care or to ER if needed, and our vaccines was like the biggest thing, having to make sure they’re saved so they’re not thrown out,” health care worker Vanessa Aguirre said.

Westbound Merced at Sunset, and eastbound lanes at Orange, were closed for the crash investigation.


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