Classic T-Bird Crash Ends Police Chase

High speed chase ends with car smashing into an airplane and a '55 Thunderbird

A wild police pursuit in El Cajon ended with the driver of a stolen car crashing into an airplane early Tuesday at Gillespie Field.

El Cajon police said officers spotted a stolen Volkswagen Passat just after 1 a.m.  Patrick Ray, 38, was behind the wheel, according to investigators, who said officers tried to pull Ray over, but he took off leading police on a chase through El Cajon.

The pursuit reached speeds of 100 mph at times, authorities said. Ray was speeding northbound on Johnson Avenue when he missed a sharp right-hand turn, plowed into some bushes and launched off an embankment, police said. The car flew over a ravine, flipped, landing on Gillespie Field, hitting the tail and a wing of an RV-4 airplane belonging to Gene Fisher.  But the destruction didn’t stop there. The car skidded into a hanger, smashing a vintage 1955 Thunderbird parked inside. The T-bird also belongs to Fisher.

Fisher said he built the vintage plane and had put the engine in Monday. On Tuesday, he surveyed the damage at Gillespie Field in disbelief.

"Time to go to work and fix it," Fisher said. "Nothing you can do."

John Preston was nearby when the chase came to an end. He heard the whole thing happen. 

“I thought it went down here in the creek, but he flew the coop -- he went like the Dukes of Hazard," Preston said. "It was a loud, banging noise, a couple of great, big bangs."

Police said they found Ray in the hanger. He was taken to Sharp Hospital and treated, then booked into the county jail.

Ray is facing charges of possession of stolen property and evading police.

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