High-speed CHP chase into Berkeley closes Gilman, knocks out power

A teenage boy led the CHP on a chase from Richmond to Berkeley that reached 125 mph early Friday morning, authorities report.

A high-speed freeway chase ended on Gilman Street in Berkeley early Friday morning and knocked out power to several thousand PG&E customers, authorities said. Photo: Alan Zucker

A teenage boy led the California Highway Patrol on a chase from Richmond to Berkeley that reached 125 mph early Friday morning, authorities report.

The chase ended when the driver ran into a power pole on Gilman Street, knocking out electricity to thousands and closing the street for hours, officials said. Gilman at Fourth Street was still closed as of about 11 a.m., a reader told Berkeleyside. The driver took out a stop sign and a utility pole and crashed into Gilman Grill, he said.

The incident began at 1:30 a.m. when the Golden Gate CHP began to follow a white BMW that had no license plates, said Officer Kris Borer, Oakland CHP spokesman. The driver increased from 80 mph to 125 mph on westbound Interstate 80 near Hilltop Drive in Richmond, he said.

The driver took the Gilman Street offramp in Berkeley as Oakland CHP officers followed. He turned right onto Gilman, heading west toward Golden Gate Fields, Borer said. When the driver got to a dead end, he made a U-turn and accelerated to 50 mph, heading east on Gilman, according to Borer.


When he struck the railroad tracks, the driver lost control then ran into two wooden telephone poles and the side of the Gilman Street Grill, said Borer. Police took the driver into custody without further incident.

The driver, identified publicly only as a male juvenile, sustained abrasions to his face as a result of the collision. He was alone in the car during the pursuit, Borer said.

Berkeley PD released a statement shortly after 3 a.m. advising community members to avoid Gilman between Second and Fifth streets. BPD said Gilman would be closed, which would “require a detour of traffic for the next several hours. There is a power pole that has been damaged.”

According to Google Maps, the road was still closed as of publication time. Berkeleyside has asked authorities for confirmation.

PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian told Berkeleyside the crash damaged the power pole and electrical equipment and brought down “several spans of wire.” A non-electrified cable that supported the pole also broke and landed on or near a truck parked in the area, she said. When that truck drove away at about 6 a.m., it snagged the cable and caused more damage.


The incident led to an outage that affected about 3,300 customers at its peak, said Sarkissian. As of about 7:20 a.m., service to all but 450 or so had been restored. The bulk of those got their power back within the next hour.

As of Friday afternoon, 90 Berkeley customers were still without service, she said.

“We are working, safely and as quickly as possible, to complete repairs and restore the remaining customers,” Sarkissian told Berkeleyside. “Repairs include replacing the pole and wire. We anticipate the work and restoration of customers to be complete later today.”

Sarkissian said anyone who sees low or downed power lines should always assume they are live: “Keep yourself and others away, and call 911 and PG&E immediately.”

Update, 4:10 p.m. PG&E reports that all but 5-10 customers should have their power back soon, and that Gilman should be open to traffic shortly.


Emilie Raguso is Berkeleyside’s senior editor of news. Email: emilie@berkeleyside.com. Twitter: emraguso. Phone: 510-459-8325.