Search on for man who led officers on chase in La Mesa: Investigation at Maryland, Guessman Ave

LA MESA, Calif. - A police sergeant escaped serious injury early Wednesday when a car, abandoned by a fleeing auto-theft suspect, rolled into him and dragged him about 50 feet down on an East County street.

Officers spotted the stolen 1995 Honda Prelude heading west in the 7700 of Parkway Drive in La Mesa about 3:30 a.m. and began tailing it, according to La Mesa police. The car was reported stolen from the 5000 block of Comanche Street.

A short time later, the driver -- a dark-haired man of about 25, wearing jeans and a gray sweat shirt -- turned onto Maryland Avenue, pulled to a stop and jumped out of the car near Guessman Avenue, Capt. David Bond said.

As the suspect ran off to the south into a residential area with officers giving chase, LMPD Sgt. Bret Richards got out of his cruiser and began setting up a perimeter and preparing to coordinate a search. Unbeknownst to Richards, meanwhile, the abandoned stolen sedan began to roll backward.

The Prelude struck the sergeant as he stood in the street, then pulled him down the street until he was able to push himself clear of it.

Medics took Richards to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, where he was treated for scrapes and bruises and released later in the morning, Bond said.

Officers from several area police agencies searched the area along with sheriff's deputies for about four hours but were unable to locate the unidentified suspect.

Mark Daggett, who lives in the neighborhood, said he saw the suspected auto thief running through his backyard.

"He broke the fence, and the police came back and had the dogs in the backyard, but they didn't find anybody," said Daggett.

Evidence that could help identify the suspect was recovered from the vehicle, Bond said.

Police described the suspect as Hispanic, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, with dark hair. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt and jeans.

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