A wild high-speed chase involving a driver weaving down Highway 101 with no rear tire ended shortly after midnight Tuesday after the vehicle careened into a hillside near the Waldo Tunnel.
The bizarre episode ended when a team of officers arrested an Iowa woman at gunpoint on suspicion of reckless driving and evading, drunken driving and driving without a license.
California Highway Patrol spokesman Andrew Barclay said the CHP was alerted at midnight about a southbound motorist in a Chrysler Sebring missing its right rear tire - and driving on the metal rim. As CHP officers converged, a caller advised the vehicle had exited in Novato, but officers stationed at the Ignacio overpass spotted it at 12:24 a.m. passing by in the slow lane.
When they initiated a stop, the Chrysler slowed and pulled over to the right shoulder, then sped away, turning north on Alameda del Prado. The driver ran stop signs and stop lights, then entered southbound 101 at Ignacio Boulevard.
A second CHP unit joined the pursuit as the driver hit speeds of up to 80 mph.
"As the pursuit approached the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard exit, the driver of the Chrysler slowed and exited (and) initially began transitioning to eastbound Sir Francis Drake before turning right and re-entering southbound 101," Barclay added.
At this point, a third CHP patrol car set up a spike strip near the Strawberry pedestrian overcrossing and as the Chrysler passed, its left rear tire blew out.
The Chrysler continued southbound with a left rear flat tire and no right rear tire at all. As the car approached the Waldo Tunnel, it spun out, whipping across lanes until it smashed into the hillside.
Arrested at gunpoint without further incident was 34-year-old Maria Magdalena Bautista of Des Moines, Iowa. She was checked out at Marin General Hospital, then booked at county jail and held in lieu of $35,000 bail.
©2013 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)
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