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UPDATE: Juvenile steals Meals on Wheels van, leads police on chase

A juvenile stole a Meals on Wheels van and led police on a high-speed chase through the city before crashing into another vehicle Thursday.

At least eight first-responder vehicles gathered at Florida Avenue and Thomas Boulevard around 2 p.m. with the unidentified male suspect, seated in the back of a Port Arthur police cruiser.

A juvenile reportedly stole a Meals on Wheels van from Stonegate Manor Apartments then led police on a high speed chase through the city that ended when he crashed into an SUV on Thomas Boulevard and Florida Avenue on Thursday.
Mary Meaux/The News

Acadian emergency medical personnel wheeled a lone woman from a vehicle toward their ambulance. She was identified by onlookers to the collision as the driver of a blue GMC sport utility vehicle that had heavy damage to its passenger side. The airbag apparently deployed and she appeared to be alert on a stretcher.

Police said a second woman in the SUV also sustained minor injuries.

Annette Lennette, who lives at Stonegate Manor Apartments, said she was there when a lone male jumped into a van that she said was delivering Meals on Wheels food when the suspected vehicle thief sped off. She said she followed the van after the van’s rightful owner said it had been stolen and shouted, “Stop him. He stole the van.”

A juvenile suspect was arrested for allegedly stealing a Meals on Wheels van and leading police on a high speed chase before crashing into an SUV on Thomas Boulevard and Florida Avenue on Thursday.
Mary Meaux/The News

Lennette said she tried to keep up with the driver; she said he passed “through every red light” from Turtle Creek to U.S. 69. That included Turtle Creek Drive, Ninth Avenue, Jimmy Johnson Boulevard and onto Memorial Boulevard, where at least five police vehicles gave chase. She said the suspect driver was driving at speeds greater than 80 mph when she gave up her pursuit.

That chase ended in a thickly settled residential area under the shade of numerous trees, with neighbors gathering around the crash site.

A Port Arthur Police officer spotted the suspect vehicle on Ninth Avenue. The suspect fled from officers there until he crashed into the SUV, which was occupied by two people.

A juvenile reportedly stole a Meals on Wheels van from Stonegate Manor Apartments then led police on a high speed chase through the city that ended when he crashed into an SUV on Thomas Boulevard and Florida Avenue on Thursday.
Mary Meaux/The News

Neighbors in the area came out and watched as first responders worked the incident, including Lyric Leday and her grandfather, Leonard Leday.

The elder Leday had heard the crash outside and saw on his surveillance camera a male running down his driveway. He jumped up and ran through the house to check the scene.

“I heard him run and I heard the crash. Then my dog started barking at me. I got up and went outside,” Lyric Leday said.

A lone flip-flop style sandal was still laying in the Leday’s driveway, apparently dropped by the suspect as he fled on foot from police as wrecker trucks worked to remove the wrecked vehicles.

Ken Stickney contributed to this story. Ken.stickney@panews.com