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Van Fleeing Police Lands in Channel; Driver in Hospital

May 18, 2003|Dan Weikel | Times Staff Writer

A motorist who fled from police was seriously injured Saturday evening when his car flew off a highway overpass in Westminster, struck a sound wall, and landed upside down in a flood-control channel, authorities said.

The pursuit began about 7:15 p.m. after Fountain Valley police stopped Christopher Mark Dandrea, 41, of Anaheim for a possible traffic violation, said Westminster Sgt. Tom Finley.

Finley said that as officers conducted their investigation, the motorist threw drugs from the window of his 1991 Chevrolet Astro van and sped away, leading police on a 20-minute pursuit through Fountain Valley, Garden Grove and Westminster.

After traveling down the westbound side of the Garden Grove Freeway at up to 70 mph, the motorist exited on Valley View and made his way to Springdale Street, then turned south.

On a bridge over the San Diego Freeway, Finley said, the driver veered left, crossed the oncoming lanes, and crashed through the guardrail.

He plunged into the channel, striking a sound wall on the way down. At the time of the crash, Dandrea was going more than 60 mph, police said.

Finley said the driver was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where he was listed in critical condition. Police said they have yet to determine the types of drugs that were thrown from Dandrea's car.

The pursuit tied up traffic on the San Diego Freeway and the Garden Grove Freeway between Beach Boulevard and Magnolia Street.

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