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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Car chase through Davis ends with crash into Unitrans bus

Home security camera captures finale of high-speed pursuit, as suspect slams into back of a Davis bus

On April 1, a car chase that started in West Sacramento ended in Davis when the pursued driver crashed into the back of a Unitrans bus. The scene of the crash was captured by a nest home security camera and posted on Youtube by The Davis Enterprise.

Lieutenant Paul Doroshov of the Davis Police Department said that the chase began in West Sacramento when local officers tried to pull over a white van that was driving erratically. When the van refused to stop, the police began pursuing the vehicle. While in pursuit of the white van, police learned that the vehicle had been reported stolen.

The driver of the van fled West Sacramento police westbound down I-80 toward Davis. Doroshov said the Davis police were already set up and waiting, prepared in case the van entered the city. Once the van did enter Davis, the Davis PD took over the chase.

The pursuit was temporarily abandoned when a sergeant called it off, citing concerns over public safety.

“At some point, he starts driving really erratically,” Doroshov said. “So the sergeant cancelled the pursuit.”

Once the suspect was no longer being pursued, the van slowed down, Doroshov said.  Police resumed following the vehicle when the car drove onto a dirt road, somewhat reducing the speed of the vehicle.

“He’s driving down the dirt road and the officers are thinking, ‘Well, okay, he probably can’t drive fast now because he’s on dirt, and maybe he’s going to ditch it and run’ — like a lot of people do with stolen cars,” Doroshov said.

The pursuit continued onto Monarch Lane, according to Doroshov, and ended there with a loud crash as the van slammed into the back of a stopped Unitrans bus.

Footage posted to Youtube by the Davis Enterprise shows the moment when the fleeing van crashed into the back of a Unitrans bus on Monarch Lane. In the video, the bus comes to a full stop for a moment before a white van speeds into frame and crashes into the back of it with a loud bang. Police follow close behind in SUVs, blocking the vehicle from behind. Officers exit their vehicles with their guns drawn and shout for the driver the driver to surrender.

“Stop, get down on the ground, get down on the ground, don’t move,” police can be heard yelling at the suspect in the video. “Show us your hands.”

Police officers surrounded the vehicle, opening the back and side doors of the van. The video ends with the suspect still out of frame, either still inside the vehicle or out of view behind the van.

Doroshov said that the suspect was injured during the crash. Realizing the suspect was hurt, police took him into custody and transported him to the UC Davis Medical Center for treatment. He was identified as Paul Joseph Wortmann, a 48-year-old resident of Sacramento. Wortmann was released from the hospital after recovery, and his case was turned over to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.

According to police, none of the passengers on the bus were injured. Unitrans general manager Jeff Flynn confirmed that there were seven passengers on the bus at the time of the crash. The driver of the bus — whom Flynn declined to name — responded to the crash within the guidelines of company protocol.

“The driver immediately asked if the passengers were alright — there [were] seven people on board,” Flynn said. “They all responded yes.”

When the driver saw that the police cars pull up with guns drawn, the driver told passengers to move away from the windows, according to Flynn. Officers soon entered the bus to assess whether there were any injuries as a result of the crash. Though no passengers were injured the rear of bus was badly damaged, according to Flynn. The bus is currently out of commision, and is being repaired at a site in Alameda.

Flynn called the incident a “highly unusual” experience for the transit company. Unitrans drivers are trained for collisions and other high-stress events, he said, but being rear-ended during a car chase was a unique situation. Nevertheless, Flynn said, the driver’s response was “exactly right.”

Written by: Tim Lalonde — city@theaggie.org


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