LAFAYETTE -- A driver who led police on a brief pursuit early Friday morning knocked out power to almost 1,800 PG&E customers after the stolen car he was piloting sheared off a utility pole, police said.

Power was restored to all but 138 customers within about 20 minutes of the crash on Soares Lane at Happy Valley Road, according to a PG&E spokeswoman. A small section of the road will be closed through Friday afternoon while workers replace the utility pole and equipment.

The driver, Mark Bianchini, 38, of San Francisco, was arrested on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle, felony evasion, possession of stolen property, drug possession and resisting arrest. He was being held at County Jail in Martinez on $95,000 bail.

Bianchini was driving erratically a black Ford truck, which police said was stolen from Castro Valley several days ago, on eastbound Highway 24 when a Lafayette police officer attempted to pull him over. He stopped on the Oak Hill Road offramp, then took off again, leading the officer on a pursuit onto Deer Hill Road and then Happy Valley Road.

The California Highway Patrol, which had received reports of the truck's erratic driving, had been searching for the car nearby and joined the pursuit.

As he headed down Soares Lane, Bianchini struck the power pole, shearing it off, police said. He attempted to flee on foot but was quickly caught.


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PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris said that only 10 customers were still without power as of 7 a.m., but restoring service to them could take until Friday evening due to the location of the crash and the work required to set up new equipment, including a transformer that was on top of the pole. Happy Valley Road may be closed through at least 4 p.m. between Soares Lane and Cricket Hill Road, police said.

Contact Daniel M. Jimenez at djimenez@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/DMJreports.