A nighttime scene of a car crash with a white SUV on fire on a grassy area beside a road. The SUV has crashed into a building on the corner. Police cars with flashing lights are parked nearby, and several officers are on the scene. Other vehicles and houses are visible in the background, with a stop sign in the foreground.
A white Dodge Durango bursts into flames following a police chase in Vallejo, Calif. on July 8, 2024. The driver of the allegedly stolen vehicle was killed in the crash. (Courtesy Lizz Blanco, via Vallejo Crime and Safety)

For the second time in as many days, a Vallejo police pursuit has ended in a fatal crash less than 90 seconds after it began.

The pursuit began around 11 p.m. Monday when a Vallejo Police Ofc. Dynelle Jones noticed a 2014 white Dodge Durango, which had been reported stolen out of San Francisco, driving northbound on Couch Street, according to police. Once backup arrived, police attempted a traffic stop, but the driver failed to yield, prompting a pursuit through the city. The Dodge initially fled at around 35 mph, Jones estimated, but the chase soon reached 80 mph along surface streets.

Jones declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday. In an interview Wednesday, Vallejo police spokesperson Sgt. Rashad Hollis said Jones was not the lead officer in the pursuit. He declined to identify that officer.

With police behind him, the male driver turned south on Broadway and attempted to turn eastbound on Alabama Street. There his vehicle careened through a steel fence and crashed into the front yard of a building located at 228 Broadway Street. Smoke and flames erupted near the front of the vehicle, according to dispatch audio and witness photos reviewed by Open Vallejo. 

Police ordered the driver to exit the burning vehicle but received no response, said a neighbor named Sofia, who declined to give her last name.

“We need fire out here now,” a Vallejo police sergeant told a dispatcher as the flames began to grow.

With firefighters still en route, officers shattered a passenger-side window with a 40mm less-lethal round, pulled the driver from the vehicle, and began CPR. The male driver did not survive, Hollis told Open Vallejo. Sgt. Rex Hawkins, a spokesperson for the Solano County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office, confirmed that his agency recovered a body for transport to the county morgue on the night of the crash, but was unable to provide additional details.

Evidence of the crash remained at the scene Tuesday morning: a blackened tree, a shattered window, and a corner of the building that partially caved in from the impact. Twisted steel fencing and the vehicle’s grill littered the yard. 

A close-up view of a damaged area behind a metal fence. Vegetation and parts of a broken car, including a bumper and a license plate, are visible among the bushes. In the background, a white pickup truck is driving along the street.
Vehicle parts and other debris were scattered throughout the crash site the day after the fatal collision. (Geoffrey King / Open Vallejo)

Monday’s fatal collision comes less than three days after another Vallejo police pursuit that began with an alleged traffic violation and ended in a crash less than half a mile away. A passenger in the suspect vehicle died and five other people were taken to local hospitals.

Vehicle pursuits by Vallejo police have increased by 131% since 2018, and by 33% from 2022–2023, according to a first-of-its-kind report the agency published in March. Four people have been killed as people fled police in the past year, including a 76-year-old man who was crushed between two parked cars in front of his home last October. By contrast, Vallejo police officers have fatally shot two people over the past five years.

Experts have long acknowledged the risk associated with high-speed vehicle pursuits. In 2023, the Police Executive Research Forum released a report recommending that law enforcement agencies initiate a chase only when a suspect has committed a violent crime and poses an imminent threat of doing so again. 

While some jurisdictions have implemented policies to reduce the number of chases or eliminate them altogether, others have rolled back such restrictions. In March, San Francisco voters approved a proposition that loosened the city’s police chase rules. The reversal came shortly after a San Francisco Chronicle investigation revealed that at least 3,336 people across the nation have died in police pursuits since 2017. The vast majority of such chases involve drivers suspected of committing low-level offenses such as traffic infractions or non-violent crimes, the newsroom’s investigation found.

Vehicle collisions have cost Vallejo millions of dollars in the past decade. For example, in 2014 Vallejo Police Ofc. Joel Caitham slammed into a Toyota Corrola driven by Rene Andriano, who spent two weeks in the hospital as a result of the crash, the Vallejo-Times Herald reported. In 2016, the city settled a lawsuit brought by Andriano for $2.1 million, one of the largest civil rights settlements involving Vallejo police.

A photo caption previously identified the date of the second collision as June 8, 2024. The crash occurred on July 8.

Geoffrey King is the executive editor of Open Vallejo. Prior to founding Open Vallejo, Geoffrey worked as an attorney and journalist focused on free expression, open government, press freedom and privacy. He is a proud native of Vallejo, California.

Anna Bauman is an investigative reporter with Open Vallejo.