The car was stolen from the area of 47th and Market streets just before 6 p.m. Sunday, according to San Diego police Officer Dino Delimitros.
At the time, the children’s father had left his children in the car briefly to run into a business to do a quick chore, Delimitros said, adding that the children were 1, 3 and 7.
“When he returned, his car was gone as well as the kids who were inside,” he said.
Shortly after the father reported the theft to police, a California Highway Patrol officer spotted the vehicle on Highway 94 and College Avenue and a pursuit ensued, spilling onto surface streets.
The pursuit ended when the unlicensed teen driver crashed and a tire blew out at College Avenue and Acorn Street, Delimitros said, adding that she struggled briefly with police while being taken into custody on suspicion of auto theft, felony evading and kidnapping.
“All three children were unharmed and returned to their parents,” he said.
“They were very scared. The little girl, she came out and was freaking out while we were trying to take custody of the driver,” CHP officer Miesen said. “We had to get her out of the way, but she was very scared.”
San Diego Sheriff’s deputies and police helicopter also assisted in the pursuit with the vehicle.
Michael Decasas, a neighbor, heard the tire blow out described the scene to be “wild.”
“Before you knew it, [police officers] were grabbing the woman out of the car. They had her down and once they got her in the patrol car. Lo and behold, here comes some children and a dog,” Decasas said.
The teen driver will face charges of auto theft, carjacking and kidnapping.