EMERYVILLE -- An 18-year-old suspected car thief was arrested Tuesday night after a wild mile-long chase in which he rammed two police cars, briefly drove in the wrong lanes of traffic, and injured himself and two tourists in another car, police said.
The suspect, identified as Travis Michelbrook of Oakland, suffered broken bones and other injuries and remained hospitalized on Wednesday. He was arrested on suspicion of three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a stolen vehicle, felony evading resulting in serious injury, resisting arrest and attempted burglary.
Police said the chain of events started about 10:47 p.m. Tuesday when security guards at Chevys restaurant, at 1890 Powell St., called police to report a possible vehicle theft in progress in the restaurant parking lot, which has a history of vehicle thefts and burglaries.
Officer Brian Head said police later determined Michelbrook had unsuccessfully tried to break into a Honda.
Two officers responded and saw Michelbrook trying to drive off in a Chevrolet pickup truck. Police said he refused the officers' commands to stop and rammed their parked patrol cars. The officers jumped out of the way and were not injured, Head said.
Michelbrook then drove over a curb and through bushes into another parking lot, where he hit a private property stop sign before driving toward another police car but avoided it at the last minute.
Police said the pickup then drove east in the westbound lanes of Powell Street. Fearing for his own safety, another officer pulled into a gas station as the pickup truck sped by in the wrong lanes. Near the Interstate 80 overpass the truck finally got into the eastbound lanes heading toward Hollis Street on the other side of I-80.
By then Emeryville officers were following the truck, using emergency lights and sirens to clear traffic as they tried to catch up, police said.
At the intersection of Powell and Hollis, the truck collided with a Chevrolet sedan going southbound on Hollis. The car sustained major damage and injured the 46-year-old male driver and his 38-year-old female passenger, both tourists from New York in a rental car. The woman remained hospitalized Wednesday in critical condition and the man, who was treated and released for his injuries, was keeping vigil for her at the hospital, police said.
The badly damaged truck went out of control and collided into a construction site scaffold at the southeast corner of the intersection. Michelbrook was able to get out of the truck but was arrested by officers at the scene before he could flee. Police said the truck had been reported stolen in Oakland earlier this month.