The driver of a taxi van that fled from police pursuit and then crashed into a second patrol vehicle has been identified.
The man, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was identified Thursday afternoon as Joseph McIlhenny, 64.
At approximately 8 p.m. Wednesday, McIlhenny reportedly had been involved in a disturbance in downtown Nevada City. After the incident, he attempted to hire a taxi (van) to leave the area, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Greg Tassone. As the driver of the taxi was outside of the van loading the subject’s possessions into the taxi, McIlhenny climbed into the driver seat of the taxi and sped away. As he drove away, a civilian was struck by falling debris from the taxi and received minor injuries.
A Nevada City Police officer attempted to make a traffic stop of the taxi as it left the downtown area, but the subject failed to stop, Tassone said. A pursuit ensued from downtown Nevada City and eventually onto eastbound Highway 20. A second Nevada City Police officer was in a patrol vehicle positioned east of the pursuit near Nevada Street, with his emergency lights activated, waiting to assist.
As McIlhenny approached this second patrol vehicle, he drove directly into the rear of the patrol vehicle, causing a collision and major vehicle damage, Tassone said. Both the taxi and the patrol vehicle were disabled, with the taxi coming to rest sideways across the highway, blocking the lanes.
The Nevada City Police officer was uninjured. Both officers exited their vehicles and approached the taxi, where they found McIlhenny unresponsive, according to Tassone. He had not been wearing a seatbelt. The officers called for emergency medical personnel and began resuscitation efforts, and a helicopter air ambulance was also called to respond. Emergency medical personnel arrived and continued resuscitation efforts. However, they ultimately declared McIlhenny dead at the scene.
The CHP is handling the investigation. After a preliminary investigation, it appears alcohol and/or controlled substances were a factor.
Responding to the scene were the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, the Nevada City and Grass Valley police departments, the CHP, Nevada County Consolidated, Nevada City Fire and Sierra Nevada Ambulance.
Highway 20 was closed at Uren Street in both directions for approximately three hours.
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To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.