A middle school gym teacher reportedly wanted on suspicion of child abuse told police he was reportedly suicidal before leading officers on a chase across southeast Los Angeles that ended with his truck careening down an embankment and into a patio area outside a business, police say.
Police reportedly identified the driver as 51-year-old Kip Richard Arnold. He had been trapped inside a truck, which was flipped sideways next to an office building after the chase Tuesday, according to police. Firefighters and rescue team members extricated him and transported him to a hospital in an ambulance. "He was able to answer some basic questions," Capt. Phil Schneider of the Los Angeles County Fire Department said. "He was alert."
The Los Angeles Unified School District reportedly released a statement, saying school officials were cooperating with the police investigation. "Officials of the (LAUSD) have been notified by the Bell Police Department of the arrest of Kip Arnold, a physical education teacher at Southeast Middle School, on suspicion of lewd behavior with a former student, and possibly additional victims.
"He has been with the District eight years. Past assignments include Nimitz Middle School, Gage Middle School and Orchard Academies 2B," according to the LAUSD statement. Arnold had been under police surveillance on Tuesday. He was wanted on suspicion of child abuse allegedly involving a 16-year-old girl, police said. On Tuesday, when Arnold left his Lakewood residence in his vehicle, officers initiated a traffic stop. That's when he told officers he was suicidal and took off, police said.
The pursuit reportedly zipped through the Bell area to the 405 and 110 freeways before entering the Torrance area, according to police. Arnold’s truck crashed into the side of a semi-trailer truck but kept going, police say. The driver headed uphill onto the Palos Verdes Peninsula, then crashed through a white three-rail fence and plowed down an embankment off Crenshaw Boulevard. The vehicle landed next to a commercial building near Indian Peak Road. The crash occurred just feet from the office headquarters of a food distribution company called Dotta Foods, where employees would normally be outside in the area grilling food for lunch, according to Katia Francesconi, a sales and marketing employee with the business. "They were lucky," Francesconi said of her coworkers.
The vehicle reportedly collided with the company's barbecue and some chairs, destroying them, before crashing into a tree that stopped the truck from hitting cars parked nearby.
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