The caller, a car salesperson from a local car lot, reported that while on a test drive the customer stopped the vehicle and asked to look at the engine. While the salesperson was still outside the vehicle, the customer got inside and drove away. The salesperson provided a description of the vehicle, a 2007 white Lexus E350 with a black top, and a brief description of the customer, now suspect.
Officers immediately responded to the vicinity and began checking for the vehicle and suspect. At approximately 5:45 p.m. an officer witnessed the vehicle on W. Wabash turning south onto Broadway. The officer got behind the vehicle and attempted an enforcement stop. The vehicle immediately accelerated and a pursuit was initiated. The vehicle traveled at speeds in excess of 80 mph on Broadway, utilizing the middle turn lane and driving into opposing lanes of traffic to avoid the moderate traffic that was heading south on Broadway.
As the vehicle left the city limits, three EPD units continued the pursuit while assistance was requested from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office and the California Highway Patrol. On Hwy. 101 the speeds reached in excess of 100 mph and the driver of the stolen Lexus began pulling away from the pursuing units.
A very short time later, a deputy from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office located the vehicle still driving south on Hwy. 101, but now driving near the posted speed limit. The deputy followed the vehicle until he was joined by a CHP. Another enforcement stop was attempted and the vehicle again fled reaching speeds of 120 mph. The deputy and CHP officer pursued the vehicle south on Hwy 101.
A spike strip was deployed on Hwy. 101 near Kenmar Road in Fortuna. The vehicle struck the spike strip and the pursuit continued at speeds over 100 mph until just south of Hwy. 36 when a tire on the vehicle blew out and the rubber flew off the rim. The vehicle gradually slowed and eventually came to a stop near the roadside CHP weigh station on Hwy. 101, near Chapman’s Gems and Minerals store. The suspect surrendered and was taken into custody without further incident.
The suspect, identified as Michael Marino, age 43, from San Diego, was transported and booked at the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on violations of vehicle theft, possession of stolen property, and two counts of felonious evading law enforcement. A bail enhancement was sought given the extreme disregard for public safety displayed by Marino and a Humboldt County Superior Court judge authorized a $250,000 enhancement, making Marino’s total bond amount $300,000.