CHP: Driver of stolen van leads pursuit to COC campus, bails on foot

A sign in front of the California Highway Patrol office.
A sign in front of the California Highway Patrol office.

By Signal Staff 

The driver of a stolen Ford van led California Highway Patrol officers on a brief pursuit after nearly crashing into a CHP patrol vehicle Friday morning, leading officers to the campus of College of the Canyons and then fleeing on foot, according to the CHP. 

Portions of the COC campus were locked down for about two hours while officers and two CHP K-9 units established a perimeter and sought the suspect, according to Officer Josh Greengard, spokesman for the CHP Newhall-Area Office. The suspect remained at large at the conclusion of the search. 

The incident began at 5:17 a.m. when “a Newhall Area unit avoided a broadside crash with a white Ford Transit van on Magic Mountain (Parkway) at Interstate 5,” read a summary of the incident provided by Greengard. “The Ford was driving reckless. The Newhall unit pursued the Ford on surface streets and entered the College of the Canyons grounds.” 

The driver pulled into the parking lot shared by the COC University Center and the Academy of the Canyons, a “middle college high school” operated by the William S. Hart Union High School District on the COC campus.  

“The Ford came to a dead end, stopped, and the driver took foot bail,” Greengard wrote. “Newhall units established a perimeter and worked with COC security and administrators. Two CHP K-9 units responded to assist.” 

The Ford van was an outstanding stolen vehicle, according to Greengard.   

Hart district officials said the Academy of the Canyons administration was communicating with families to alert them to the law enforcement activity and inform them of any impact it might have on the beginning of the school day and student drop-off procedures.  

After about two hours, the suspect was not located and remains at large at the time of this story’s publication. However, CHP officers determined that the campus was clear and both Academy of the Canyons and COC were given the green light to lift the lockdown and resume normal operations.  

“College administrators and Campus Safety officers were in constant communication with law enforcement while they searched for the suspect early this morning,” read a statement released by Eric Harnish, vice president of public information for COC. “As a precaution, Parking Lots 13 and 14 and the University Center were closed, and the Early Childhood Education Center was locked down, while CHP officers and sheriff’s deputies searched the hillside area on the west side of the campus.” 

COC officials kept the campus community informed throughout the incident with texts and emails from the college’s emergency notification system, Harnish wrote. 

“After searching for more than two hours, law enforcement officers concluded the suspect fled the area,” Harnish added. “They ended their search and notified the college that it was safe to resume normal campus operations. We appreciate the coordination and quick response from our law enforcement partners.” 

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