A suspected car thief has fallen 160 feet to his death from a crane which he climbed to evade cops during a police pursuit.
James Llamas, 23, drove into the Port of Los Angeles Wednesday night during a police chase, then climbed to the top of a loading crane, stripped naked and dangled over the edges.
The man plunged to the ground and died in a hospital about three hours later from his injuries.
It’s not clear whether he slipped or jumped deliberately, Los Angeles fire officials said.
Police in Los Angeles spotted the Subaru SUV reported stolen from a dealership in San Bernardino, and an hours-long chase ensued, the LAPD said.
Eric Nosser, a salesman at the Subaru dealership where the SUV was stolen, said he saw the man but steered clear.
‘I let him be, because he seemed on edge,’ Nosser told KNBC-TV. ‘I figured he’d just kind of walk off and go about his business.’
Instead the man found an SUV with the keys in it, got inside and took off.
Several television stations broadcast the chase live, showing the vehicle swerving at high speed through freeway traffic in Los Angeles and Long Beach, sometimes crossing into oncoming lanes.
Llamas drove through a security gate and into a container terminal at the vast Port of Los Angeles property, circling back and forth under giant loading cranes and next to a docked ship before jumping out of the still-moving SUV and racing up the stairs of the crane.
He broke a window and climbed into the crane cab, then climbed out, walked to the end of the crane over water as darkness fell.
Port workers stopped working and watched the scene, some with binoculars.
Police waited below for him for hours, worried that if they approached he might slip or jump.
As news helicopters hovered above, he shed his Lakers jersey and shoes, then later took off the rest of his clothes. He dangled and nearly fell several times before eventually plunging to the ground.
‘Our officers were nowhere near to close proximity of the suspect at the time that he fell,’ Detective Meghan Aguilar said.
Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino said Thursday he’s concerned with how easily the SUV was able to blow past the port’s security gate.
Port spokeswoman Rachel Campbell said port police launched an investigation ‘into all circumstances regarding Wednesday evening’s incident, including the security breach at the container terminal.
‘This thorough review, including protocols necessary to address improvements, will be completed as soon as possible.’