Two people are hospitalized with major injuries after they fled from an illegal sideshow, sideswiped a police patrol car and crashed into a tree near the Palo Alto Baylands early Friday morning, police said.
Shortly after 1 a.m., an officer who was on routine patrol saw an illegal sideshow involving four cars on the eastern section of Embarcadero Road near the Baylands Nature Preserve, police said in a press release.
Additional officers were called to the scene, where they arrived with their lights and sirens on. The sight led the four cars involved in the sideshow to speed away west on Embarcadero Road, according to police.
The driver in one of the fleeing cars, a red 2013 Chevrolet Camaro, hit the left front tire of a police vehicle, which was positioned in preparation for a U-turn. The two cars missed a head-on collision by inches, police said.
The Camaro driver continued traveling west for roughly a quarter-mile, then veered off the road and ran into a tree in the 1900 block of Embarcadero Road. The other fleeing cars continued west at high speeds and left the scene.
Palo Alto firefighters responded to the area, where they provided aid to the two people in the Camaro. They were transported to a hospital where they were admitted to an intensive care unit.
The driver is an East Palo Alto man in his 20s and the front seat passenger is a woman in her 20s; they were found without their seatbelts on, police said.
A small-breed dog was also found in the vehicle with major injuries. The animal was taken to an emergency veterinarian hospital, where it was euthanized because of its injuries.
Investigators suspect the driver was under the influence of alcohol. He is expected to face criminal charges, including felony evading, assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer (for hitting the patrol car), recklessly driving, driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury and animal neglect.
The crash is under investigation by the Police Department's Special Traffic Accident Reconstruction team.
"Illegal sideshows are inherently dangerous and can be deadly to both participants and spectators," the department said in the press release. "Police strongly discourage this hazardous behavior and will seek criminal charges against anyone found to be participating in them."
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.