DETROIT — When two Visalia, Calif., police officers swung their cruisers behind a sport utility vehicle that had been carjacked at gunpoint early Sunday, they prepared for a dangerous chase.
The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe roared away with officers in pursuit, but shortly after the suspect made a right turn, operators at General Motors Co.’s OnStar service sent a command that electronically disabled the gas pedal and the SUV gradually came to a halt.
The flustered thief got out and ran, but was quickly nabbed after he climbed several fences and fell into a backyard swimming pool, police said.
It was the first time since OnStar began offering the service in the 2009 model year that it was used to end a chase that could otherwise have had dire consequences.
OnStar President Walt Dorfstatter said it took only 16 minutes from the time OnStar was notified for the vehicle to be stopped.
Police chases often end in death, many times for the people in the pursued vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Last year, 334 people were killed nationwide in crashes that stemmed from police pursuits, including five police officers, 235 people in the chased vehicles and 77 who were in cars or trucks not involved in the chases.