Car chased by police through city

A high-speed pursuit of stolen Honda covers 25 miles; man arrested

vpatton@mercedsun-star.comDecember 24, 2012 

— A 27-year-old man was arrested Friday after leading officers on a pursuit in a stolen car, Merced police reported.

The pursuit lasted about 30 minutes and covered more than 25 miles through the city. The incident started about 11 p.m. in the 300 block of West Third Street in south Merced after an officer spotted a black Honda driving recklessly through the neighborhood, according to Sgt. Rodney Court.

The officer tried to stop the car, but it failed to yield and turned into an apartment complex. Police said the driver, Gilbert Ayala, traveled through the complex, driving through yards and on sidewalks.

Police learned the car had been stolen from a location in north Merced. Other officers responded to the pursuit, which reached speeds of 80 to 90 mph. At one point during the pursuit, the suspect drove through almond orchards, trying to elude the officers, police said.

The pursuit continued in the area of South Highway 59 and Dickenson Ferry Road, and the car continued northbound on South Highway 59 back into south Merced.

Police tried four times to stop the suspect by deploying spike strips. The chase ended in north Merced after the Honda's passenger-side tires were deflated by a spike strip. The driver was unable to make a turn at North West Bear Creek Drive and Shadowbrook Drive, crashing into a parked car.

Police said that Ayala fled on foot but was captured by officers after he was found hiding in Bear Creek, underneath the 16th Street bridge.

The suspect, who is on parole and a documented gang member, was booked at the Merced County Jail.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or

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