Less than 48 hours after his release from prison, a man led police on a chase along Pacific Coast Highway early Tuesday in a stolen sports car that reached speeds of more than 130 m.p.h. before skidding to a halt, police said.
Damon L. Reich, 23, was booked on suspicion of auto theft after the 1986 silver-gray turbo-charged Nissan 300ZX he was driving skidded 260 feet and struck a curb, Newport Beach Detective Jeff Cantrell said.
"He tried to make a northbound turn onto Newland Avenue (in Huntington Beach). That's when he skidded into the curb, blew out all four tires and ripped out the undercarriage," Cantrell said.
When the car struck the curb, its digital readout speedometer froze at 134.6 m.p.h., Cantrell said.
Reich, of Ontario, was not injured, Cantrell said. The car, which had been reported stolen June 18 from the Sun Nissan dealership in Whittier, was placed on a flatbed truck and hauled away, he said.
Police said that Reich, who was in prison at the time the car was stolen, may have obtained it from a friend.
The chase began in Newport Beach about 3 a.m. after Police Officer Mark Everton saw a darkly clothed man appear from between two houses on Marguerite Avenue. The man spotted the officer, jumped into the Nissan and raced south down Coast Highway, Cantrell said.
Upon reaching Crystal Cove, just north of Laguna Beach, the driver turned off the car's headlights and made a U-turn, Cantrell said. The Nissan then sped to Huntington Beach, where the driver lost control of the car after he tried to make a right turn from the highway onto Newland Avenue, he said.
Reich had been released Sunday from the state prison at San Luis Obispo, where he had spent 16 months for auto theft, credit card theft and credit card forgery, according to a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections.
"He was out less than 48 hours, and he's back in possession of a stolen vehicle," Cantrell said. "He's out in a residential area, prowling around. He sees a policeman and takes off at 115 m.p.h."
Reich was being held at the Newport Beach Police Department without bail, Cantrell said. Newport Beach police probably will hand over Reich to Whittier police, because the car was stolen there, he said.
Don J. Quiring of G&W Towing Service said the car, priced at $25,000, needs four new tires and body work on its front end. Still, he said, it will make a good used car.