A police pursuit headed right for a Caltrans crew and a California Highway Patrol officer - giving them just seconds to jump behind a concrete divider before the suspect's motorcycle caused a fiery, deadly crash.
Deputies got a 911 phone call just after 2 a.m. Thursday about a possible robbery at the AM/PM on Winter Gardens in Lakeside. When deputies arrived to the gas station, they said they spotted the suspect leaving the area on a motorcycle and tried to make a traffic stop. When the motorcycle refused to stop and headed southbound on Highway 67 deputies started a pursuit.
Caltrans had a full closure at the interchange of State Route 52 and Highway 67. A CHP officer was stationed there to protect the crews as they were working on the construction.
When the officer realized there was a pursuit heading toward the scene he drove up to the crew to warn them.
As the CHP and the Caltrans crew were having that conversation, the suspect’s motorcycle collided with the Caltrans truck, according to Brian Pennings, spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol.
“The motorcycle blew through the closure and was rapidly approaching their location,” said Pennings. “Both of them jumped out of the way, out of their vehicles and behind the Jersey wall for their safety.”
All three vehicles – the motorcycle, the Caltrans truck and the CHP vehicle -- burst into flames.
The motorcyclist was thrown onto the ground and was declared dead on the scene. He's been identified as Noah Comer, 39, of Spring Valley.
“Luckily, it wasn’t worse,” said Caltrans spokesperson Steve Saville.
Conditions are often dangerous for crews working on highways throughout the state and have resulted in injuries and even deaths in the past. One Caltrans worker is still recovering after she was critically injured collecting trash along the highway a few month ago Saville said.
“We don’t get any advance notice. It’s a very deadly situation for our folks out in the field and something that we’re constantly thinking about,” said Saville.