Man suspected of driving a mile through Boyle Heights train tunnel identified [updated]

BOYLE HEIGHTS — A suspected vehicle thief who drove a pickup truck for about a mile through a Metro Gold Line tunnel in an attempt to evade police has been identified as 27-year-old Rafael Lopez Jr., according to authoities

Police has been pursuing Lopez Tuesday night after he was spotted driving a possibly stolen vehicle in Huntington Park. Lopez refused to pull over and then led officers on a high-speed chase through the streets of East L.A. before jumping the Gold Line tracks and entering the tunnel at  E. 1st Street near Lorena Street in Boyle Heights, according to  media accounts.

He drove about a mile westbound in the tunnel before stopping near the Soto Street station. Lopez was apprehended but the female passenger escaped by running up a stairway and opening a hatch leading to the street, 

reports KTLA

. She remains at large.

Officers did not follow the westbound truck into the tunnel. However,  a Gold Line train traveling in the same direction entered the same tunnel and then an eastbound train exited the tunnel traveling on adjacent tracks, said the L.A. Times.

There were no reports of injuries inside the tunnel. Passengers riding in a taxi struck by the truck before it went underground suffered minor injuries, according to CBS2.

The LAPD’s Transit Services Division, which patrols Metro trains and buses, posted a photo of a GMC truck with a damaged front-end inside the tunnel.

Update @ 1:17 PM: The L.A. County District Attorney has charged Lopez with six counts, including driving or taking a stolen vehicle, hit-and-run driving resulting in injury to another person, and fleeing a pursuing police office.  He is expected to be arraigned today. If convicted as charged, Lopez faces a maximum possible sentence of four years and four months in state prison

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