Vehicle being pursued by deputies collides with NCTD bus near Pala Casino

Pursuit vehicle collides with NCTD bus in Pala
Posted at 5:26 PM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-01 02:33:00-05

PALA, Calif. (KGTV) - A vehicle being pursued by San Diego Sheriff's deputies crashed into a bus near Pala Casino late Wednesday.

The crash occurred shortly after 4 p.m., prompting a five-hour closure of SR-76.

SDSO deputies were pursuing a 1999 Dodge Durango that matched a "Be On The Lookout" for a suspect vehicle. When deputies saw the driver, he matched the description of a wanted felony suspect known in the area to be "armed and dangerous.

The deputies followed the vehicle as it drove through the Pala Casino parking lot and onto Highway 76. They then activated their emergency lights and siren to conduct a traffic stop. The suspect increased speed west on Highway 76, initiating a pursuit that ended with the Durango colliding with a North County Transit District "Lift" bus.

The suspect in the Dodge Durango was Cesar Lopez, according to the Sheriff's Department. Sky10 footage showed Lopez being extracted from the Durango and placed into an awaiting ambulance. Deputies said he suffered a broken arm and minor burns. He will be booked into the Vista Detention Facility at a later time.

Two people were on the transit bus that Lopez's car crashed into - the driver of the bus and a female passenger. Both were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. 

In Lopez's SUV, deputies found a gun, loaded pistol magazines believed to belong to the firearm and suspected methamphetamine. Drug paraphernalia was found on the 23-year-old.

Additional checks, identification cards, a passport, and other suspected stolen property was located in the vehicle.

Lopez was on Post Release Community Supervision for felonious theft, had two felony warrants and one misdemeanor warrant for his arrest, according to deputies. He was arrested on multiple felony charges related to the pursuit and weapon possession with additional charges pending investigation.

Deputies say the pursuit lasted around two miles and was over within minutes. State Route 76 was closed in both directions just west of Pala Casino, near Pala Mission Road, according to Cal Trans San Diego.

Sky10 was live over the scene in Pala on Facebook Live: