By Keri Blakinger
A man who allegedly told police he was drunk led officers on a lengthy chase around Loop 610 Tuesday night before he was taken into custody.
A Houston police officer just before midnight spotted a man sitting in a damaged car in a parking lot near North Main and Airline, according to authorities. When she approached the suspicious vehicle to question its driver, the man allegedly told her he was drunk.
The officer asked him to step out of the vehicle, but instead he revved up the car and fled, sparking a chase around Loop 610.
After tracking the speeding vehicle by air and ground, police eventually ended the chase by setting up spikes to shred the car's tires near North Loop and Ella.
Authorities did not immediately name the suspect, who is expected to be charged with felony evading.
The pursuit was the first of three Houston police chases that wound through the metro area overnight. For at least two of the incidents, officers used air surveillance to track a fleeing suspect and avoid collisions.
"One of the things that helped us during this is that our helicopter was in the air," Lt. Larry Crowson said. "That allows the officers to slow down a little bit - the helicopter can maintain sight of the vehicle and assist the officers in the pursuit which makes it much safer for the officers and the citizens in the area."
Although none of the overnight pursuits ended with fatalities, police chases are notoriously risky endeavors, given the persistent possibility of life-threatening high-speed wrecks. According to federal data, somewhere between 300 and 400 drivers, officers and innocent bystanders die every year during police chases.
In 2016, the Bayou City area saw at least 13 chase crashes in 13 weeks, leaving six people dead and nine injured, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis at the time.