A woman was taken into police custody Saturday afternoon after leading police on a pursuit through the Coachella Valley. The incident shut down the area’s main travel artery, Interstate 10, for a short period of time.
“Cars were just stacked,” Andy Luna Jr. told reporter Katie Widner. “It really affected a lot of people traffic-wise.”
The Desert Hot Springs Police Department said the chase began in Desert Hot Springs around 1 p.m., but was taken over by the California Highway Patrol shortly afterwards.
The vehicle then headed eastbound on the freeway, traveling around 30 mph. Eventually the car, a blue Dodge Durango, came to a stop on the left shoulder near the median, in the stretch of freeway between the Washington and Jefferson streets off-ramps. A blond, middle-aged woman engaged with officers, screaming out her window and eventually crawling into the back seat of the vehicle.
“She was just really angry. She said she needed an ambulance, then she was telling people to get away from her,” Luna said. “When enough was enough, they did what they had to do and get her out of the car.”
The pursuit caused a major backup on the eastbound side of the freeway, creating traffic congestion past Bob Hope Drive in Thousand Palms. The westbound side was completely closed to traffic for at least ten minutes after the vehicle stopped.
DHS and CHP officers at the scene eventually moved in, breaking the back window and pulling the woman out through a side window. Witnesses watched the scene unfold from the roadway behind and streets that paralleled the freeway.
“She kept saying she was a county employee,” said Luna.
The woman’s dog fled the vehicle. An officer jumped the median and attempted to retrieve it. There is no information on if the officer was successful.
Over the phone, the CHP said the DHS Police Department had arrested the woman and is handling the case. Despite several attempts, News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 was unable to get immediate information from the City of Desert Hot Springs.
Calls and emails made to the city’s public information officer, Doria Wilms, were not returned.