PORTERVILLE, Calif. - A man and woman are dead after being ejected out of a car that crashed in Porterville, according to police. A third occupant survived but was arrested.
Police say a high speed chase started in Lindsay around 3 P.M. Tuesday afternoon. But officers called off the pursuit in Porterville for safety reasons.
"It looked like a car went off a cliff," said Jarred Godfrey.
"Everything just came to a halt," said Walter Idolyantes.
"I was like 'yeah, somebody's not gonna make it out of that'," said Godfrey.
Chilling reaction from employees at a Porterville shopping center as they remembered the mangled remains of a burgundy Nissan Altima. Police say the car collided into a pole on the corner of East Olive Avenue and South Plano Street.
"My girl works right there at McDonald's. I'm glad the car didn't go over the rocks and into their freaking building," said Godfrey.
"The light pole was just moving radically," said Idolyantes.
Police say the crash ejected a woman from the driver's seat, killing her instantly. Another man was ejected from the car and died after arriving at Sierra View Hospital. A third person tried to run away from the wreck but he was arrested. Lindsay Police Chief Chris Hughes says the driver led officers on a high speed chase that started in Lindsay at John J. Cairns High School. One of the suspects allegedly carried a knife and went looking for a student before officers confronted the suspects in their car
"The female driver rolled up the side window really fast and accelerated away from the scene, almost striking one of our officers," said Hughes.
Hughes says the chase went through Strathmore as the suspects threw out several items out the window including a beer bottle. Tulare County deputies and the California Highway Patrol joined the chase but as the Altima continued to speed into Porterville, authorities stopped the pursuit for public safety reasons. Minutes alter, police say the suspect vehicle hit a Dodge pickup before ultimately crashing. A tragedy, Chief Hughes calls senseless.
"It's a very powerful and heavy piece of machinery and you can lose control over it very fast. Not too many people are Nascar drivers so it's very easy to lose control. Could cost you your life," said Hughes.
The Porterville Police Department is investigating the crash itself. Lindsay Police are handling the criminal investigation.