A 28-year-old man was arrested in Hayward Thursday night after allegedly stealing a police patrol car and leading officers on a high-speed chase through the city, according to a police spokesman.
The dramatic events began to unfold when Hayward police responded to reports of a head-on collision on Oaks Drive and Roxbury Lane, east of the California State University East Bay campus, said police spokesman Sgt. Ryan Cantrell.
One of the drivers involved in that crash, Jeffery Chambers of Hayward, was being treated by fire department personnel when he suddenly got up, ran to a nearby police patrol car, jumped in and sped away, Cantrell said.
Chambers then allegedly raced through the city at high speeds before being spotted by officers at the intersection of Jackson Street and Santa Clara Avenue.
He was then chased by officers on westbound state Highway 92 before getting into a multi-car collision near the Clawiter Road exit, where he rolled the patrol car into a ravine. He was taken into custody with only minor injuries, Cantrell said.
The crash, just east of the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge toll plaza, forced the closure of all westbound lanes of the bridge on Thursday night.
The Hayward Police Department has a rule against leaving vehicles running and unattended, Cantrell said, and it appears the officer was abiding by that directive in this case.
“The officer was right there and the car was on because the emergency lights were on to direct cars around the collision.”
The department is looking into technology that would allow officers to more securely leave their vehicles running, which they often must do in order to keep the lights, computers and other devices on without draining battery power, Cantrell said.
Chambers is not suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol and has no outstanding warrants, so it’s still unclear why he decided to make off with the patrol car, Cantrell said.
Chambers is being held at the Hayward City Jail on suspicion of motor vehicle theft, evading, theft, non-injury and injury hit-and-run, police said.