VENTURA, Calif. - An alleged rape suspect led police officers on a pursuit that ended in a bizarre suicide on U.S. Highway 101 near Seaward Avenue in Ventura Wednesday morning.
The man behind the wheel has been identified as 33-year-old Jonathon Hanks from Camarillo.
According to the California Highway Patrol, a high-speed chase began in Los Angeles County. CHP got a call from Los Angeles police at about 7:30 a.m as officers followed the suspect.
“Our units got into position on the 101 and we were able to locate the vehicle which was a black Nissan,” said Kevin Denharder with CHP. “The vehicle was traveling northbound at the time.”
A chase of the car started in Oxnard, but things got bizarre as it continued into Ventura.
“During the pursuit our officers could see that the suspect was reaching for things near the passenger side of the car,” said Denharder. “They also observed that he was drinking some kind of substance.”
Officers noticed his car slowing down before it eventually came to a stop along the center divider near Seaward Avenue. At one point, officers thought he might have shot himself since he didn’t appear to be alive.
“When we went up to the car to investigate and take him into custody our officers broke out the window and pulled him out and realized that he was deceased,” said Denharder. “It was later determined that he had taken some kind of potassium sodium chloride substance, some kind of poison possibly while driving.”
Commuters witnessed a crime scene on their way to work Wednesday morning. Dan Brill is a mechanic at the nearby gas station, and saw the chaos as he arrived at work.
“It seemed like just after I got here there was a lot of sirens, and I noticed that all the traffic was stopped,” said Brill. “I don’t know too many people that carry poison around in their car with them. That’s crazy.”
Traffic in the northbound freeway lanes was backed up for hours as officers continued their investigation.
“I have been in a lot of different pursuits and never seen a pursuit end where an individual took a poison to kill themselves at the end of it,” said Denharder.