Suspected carjacker dies after police chase
July 17, 2003
An Grass Valley man died early Thursday in Truckee after a fall off the side of Union Mills Bridge on Interstate 80 following a carjacking in Nevada City and a high-speed police chase, according to reports.
Curtiss B. Williams, 43, fell 70 feet to his death, landing near the Truckee River, although California Highway Patrol units cannot say whether he jumped over the edge, CHP Public Affairs Officer Kirk Bromell said.
“He crashed into a retaining wall,” he said. “There were dust clouds and that sort of thing. Once we [deployed a spike strip], we kind of stayed back because we knew he wouldn’t keep up those kind of speeds.” After the crash, pursuing officers approached the abandoned car and looked over edge where they saw the Williams’ body, Bromell said.
The man’s identity was released late Thursday following notification of next of kin by the Nevada County coroner’s office.
The original incident occurred within the town limits of Nevada City, where a Fast Taxi Cab Company driver reported that a passenger threatened him with a syringe and forced him out of the car after being picked up in Penn Valley. The man had asked to be driven to the Northridge restaurant, 773 Nevada St., according to Jackie Bartholow, a Fast Taxi driver.
“[The driver] says the man said ‘Get out. I don’t want to kill you, I have a syringe,'” said Nevada City Police Sgt. Lorin Gage. “Fearful of his life, he jumped out of the car and walked a mile to town.” The driver called police from a pay phone at Bonanza Market, 321 Broad St. Bartholow told The Union newspaper in Grass Valley the driver was uninjured and is doing well.
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The carjacking occurred at 2:55 a.m. and was called in at 3:20 a.m., Gage said.
The taxicab was next spotted in Truckee on Highway 89 near the CHP office and the intersection of Donner Pass Road. Nevada County dispatches had put out an alert to area agencies to be on the lookout for the maroon Dodge Caravan owned by the taxi company.
Patrolling officers pursued the minivan down Donner Pass Road, through Commercial Row toward the Highway 267 interchange. Bromell said the chase reached speeds of 60-80 mph before the driver turned north on 267 and then east on Interstate 80.
Once on the interstate, the car entered CHP jurisdiction, and a waiting officer pursued the suspect while another unit rolled out a spikestrip. The caravan’s front tires deflated, precipitating the crash into the retaining wall, according to reports. Dispatch reports put the time of the crash at 4:06 p.m., and the discovery of the Williams’ body shortly thereafter.