By Lloyd Popp
Hot diggity dog! it was 9:15pm and my prompt, courteous service commitment to the wonderful citizens of the City of Aurora would soon be over! For the most part, the shift was relatively quiet. A few minor disturbance calls, a domestic between father and son, a crash investigation and a few traffic stops. No sooner then those thoughts passed through my consciousness, dispatch called my number. “Two-Edward-Fifty.” Momentarily, I held my breath and hesitated. Reluctantly, I answered “Go ahead, ” Dispatch said “Please respond to the area of Grove St. and N. Union St for a vehicle lockout, the owner will be standing by. ” I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Cops absolutely, positively hate late calls! Furthermore, my night was planned… get off work, go home, say goodnight to the already sleeping wife, unwind on the couch with my diet coke and chocolate covered peanuts and watch a taping of All My Children. It didn’t get any better! Plus
this was a great way to end the shift…something easy and fast.
Upon arrival, I exited my squad and approached the male spanish subject whom I greeted with “Hola Amigo, Did you call?” Just then, I heard in the distance, the sound of a racing engine which got closer and closer and closer. I froze in my steps as did the Spanish caller. “Oh no, please God please, my soap opera awaits! Moments later, a large sedan sped through the intersection eastbound like a bullet. So long Greg, Jenny, Phoebe, Langley, Estelle and her pimp Billy Clyde Tuggles. All My Children would now have to wait.
I looked at the wide-eyed Spanish male, said “Adios,” and began to pursue the scoundrel who had just ruined my plans. With squad lights off, I was able to catch up to the driver who had slowed and was unaware of my presence. I activated my red lights to affect a traffic stop. The driver looked into his rear view mirror and turned right into a driveway. For an instant, I thought maybe, just maybe the driver had also taped All My Children and was in a hurry to watch it too. No such luck! To my surprise, he not only didn’t stop but accelerated rapidly, driving into the backyards of the residential neighborhood. Weaving back and forth and in circles, the driver ran into picnic tables, clotheslines and anything else in his path leaving airborne debris in his wake. I prayed to God that no kids were playing in the backyards! He then lost control of the car running into the back of a garage. Yes! He was now mine! Exiting my squad, I ran up to the
driver’s door only to find it locked. The driver then backed up almost hitting me and continued south to the street. The chase was on again! Through residential streets in speeds in excess of 90mph, the driver recklessly ignored all traffic standards and nearly collided with countless vehicles and pedestrians. Heart pounding out of my chest, I continued to pursue. What did this guy do? Rob or kill someone? Why was he so intent on avoiding arrest? All these questions came to mind. As he turned a corner by my childhood grade school, he lost control and ended up striking and getting stuck upon a fire hydrant. Opportunity knocked once again! This time, I grabbed my oversized flashlight, ran up and smashed the driver window out. Just as I grabbed ahold of the driver’s shirt, the car became unstuck from the fire hydrant and he rapidly accelerated. With me hanging onto the driver, the car sped off. After a couple car lengths I decided this was a bad idea
and let go. Now injured after doing a couple of beautiful cartwheels on the pavement, I limped back to my squad and continued my pursuit.
After pursuing the offender for over ten minutes, I was finally joined by a fellow officer. We soon caught up and sandwiched the driver between our squads. For the next four blocks he took turns side-swiping both our squads attempting to lose us. With a T-intersection approaching, we were confident he’d be forced to stop. Wrong! He drove straight ahead into the curb flattening the front tires and careening off to the right of my squad. Amazingly, he continued driving on the flats tires. Approaching an upcoming bridge, the driver accelerated to over 60mph and became airborne upon hitting the crest. With sparks from the front rims scraping the pavement, we were witness to a spectacular light show. An impressive sight to behold. We became airborne rangers as well. Were it not for a pedestrian wall , my squad most certainly would have gone off the bridge to the train tracks below.
After another five minutes of driving through lights, signs, and gouging the streets with the front rims, the driver made the mistake of pulling into a backyard with a high stone block retaining wall. My partner and I pinned his car against the wall with our squads.. As he repeatedly backed his car into ours to gain freedom, I ran up and pulled him out the driver’s window to the ground. The struggling suspect was handcuffed and placed in the prisoner transport van which had just arrived on scene.
While my partner and I were talking, dispatch advised us the suspect had stolen the vehicle from a Taco Bell restaurant on the west side of Aurora. Apparently the owner had left the car running and had gone inside to order his food when it was taken. I returned to the vehicle to search for contraband and was shocked and horrified at the sight my flashlight illuminated. My eyes were met by a frightened, wide-eyed, boy sitting in the front passenger seat. He looked to be 3-4 years old. It seems the suspect took his young son along on the joy ride when he took the running vehicle.
This story has a happy ending. After clearing the scene and before completing the mountain of paperwork, I took my new buddy to McDonalds for a Happy Meal and an ice cream sundae. This little guy had so much funI that he probably encouraged his Dad to violate the law when they were together again. That is once he got out of prison.
My story also has a happy ending. First, I survived one of the hairiest police chases ever. Definitely on par with any Hollywood chase. But more importantly, I returned home after the mountain of paperwork at 7:30a.m. I kissed my school teacher wife goodbye for the day, sat on the couch, diet coke, chocolate covered peanuts in hand and finally watched a riveting installment of ALL MY CHILDREN.