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Wild RV chase across LA injures three people — and two dogs in driver’s lap, cops say

Screengrab from KABC video

A woman fleeing police in a stolen recreational vehicle with two dogs on her lap careened across Los Angeles, smashing into vehicles and shredding the RV Tuesday, KCBS reported.

Police arrested Julie Ann Rainbird, 53, of Winnetka, California, when she tried to run away with one of the dogs after crashing the RV into a car in Tarzana about 7:30 p.m., KNBC reported.

The other dog had jumped or fallen out of the RV earlier in the chase after the vehicle’s windshield was torn off, according to KABC.

Simi Valley police say Rainbird may have purchased the RV from a dealership in Downey using a stolen identity, KTLA reported.

The wild police pursuit, which began about 7 p.m. in Santa Clarita north of Los Angeles, left three people hospitalized and injured the two dogs, which are now in animal control custody, KNBC reported.

The RV reached speeds up to 60 mph on surface streets during the pursuit, colliding with at least six other vehicles, according to KABC .

At one point, the RV hit a palm tree in a shopping mall parking lot in Northridge, tearing off the passenger side and windshield, KCBS reported.

“I can’t imagine what would possess someone to just do something like that,” said witness Bob Wolf, KNBC reported.

Television helicopter videos of the chase show Rainbird trying to hang onto one of the dogs as it dangles out the shattered windshield, then falls to the street. She stops the RV to look for the dog, which runs off.

Animal control officers later recovered the dog, KNBC reported

Rainbird continued driving as debris and fluids flew from the wrecked RV, KCBS reported, before striking a vehicle backing out of a driveway in Tarzana.

“These streets are narrow,” said Craig Friedman, a Tarzana resident, KABC reported. “Sure, she was just evading police, but my God, you gotta stop. You know you’re gonna get caught.”

Rainbird ran from the RV with the remaining dog, which appeared to be limping, KTLA reported.

Officers tackled her as she tried to jump the fence of a home in the neighborhood, KABC reported. Rainbird is expected to face charges that include driving under the influence, felony evading and felony hit-and-run.

Kevin Butler with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy's police pursuit training class demonstrates how police officers train to drive when responding to a call or during a pursuit.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.

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