RV driver leads police on freeway chase

SAN DIEGO – An allegedly intoxicated man driving a recreational vehicle also occupied by a woman and two dogs led authorities on a chase early Thursday from Pacific Beach to San Clemente, where he got into a brief freeway standoff that ended with his arrest.

The events that led to the pursuit began shortly before 2:30 a.m., when San Diego police contacted two people inside the RV in the 2800 block of Mission Bay Drive because it was parked illegally and its registration was expired, SDPD Officer Tony Martinez said.

Officers were preparing to impound the RV when the man got back inside, along with his female companion, started the engine and drove off. Patrol personnel gave chase as the motor home entered nearby Interstate 5 and headed north.

After taking over the pursuit near Gilman Drive in La Jolla, the California Highway Patrol tailed the tan 1985 Coachmen RV through northern San Diego, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside, CHP public-affairs Officer Mark Latulippe said.

In the La Costa area, a spike strip that officers tossed into the path of the motor home punctured and flattened its two front tires. Soon, it was rolling on a pair of bare metal rims, sending sparks onto the roadway as the fleeing driver — later identified as 61-year-old James Bruce Golden — continued refusing to yield and drove on into Orange County, Latulippe said.

About 4:45 a.m., the disabled motor home slowed to a stop on the freeway south of Avenida Magdalena, near San Clemente Municipal Golf Course. Officers surrounded it, guns drawn, and closed the interstate in the area while trying to contact the occupants and persuade them to surrender.

For about 20 minutes, Golden and the woman failed to comply with officers’ orders to exit the vehicle, Latulippe said. Finally, shortly after 5 a.m., they walked out and were detained without further incident. Authorities reopened the freeway a short time later.

Once in custody, Golden complained of chest pain, prompting medics to take him to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo for an evaluation.

Upon his discharge from medical care, Golden was expected to be booked into jail on suspicion of felony evasion of police and driving under the influence of a controlled substance. Authorities did not specify what type of drug he allegedly had in his system.

Golden’s companion, whose name and relationship to him were withheld, was questioned and released. The dogs that had been along for the ride during the pursuit were turned over to her, Latulippe said.