Police chase ends with crash at Great Lakes Naval Station

Police lights | File Photo
Heather Leszczewicz
heather@pioneerlocal.com | @HeatherLesz
Aug. 1 8:49 a.m.

A 44-year-old Chicago motorist who led Highland Park and Lake Bluff police on a pursuit late Thursday drove through a gate at the Great Lakes Naval Station, where Naval personnel fired gunshots at his Toyota Camry in an unsuccessful attempt to disable the vehicle.

The driver, Paul Sasso, was not injured by gunfire, but sustained injuries when his vehicle collided with two Navy Security Force vehicles set up as a blockade, according to John Sheppard, public affairs officer for the Great Lakes Naval Station.

Security at the naval station shot at the car four times trying to disable it, but were unsuccessful, the statement said. Eventually, two Navy security vehicles set up a barrier that the driver of the Camry crashed into.

Sasso was treated by the Great Lakes Fire Department on the scene and transported to Lake Forest Hospital in police custody for further evaluation.

Lake Bluff police have charged Sasso, of the 4300 block of South Sawyer in Chicago, with improper lane usage and fleeing and attempting to elude police.

Lake Bluff Deputy Police Chief Michael Hosking said the suspect was driving at about 45 to 50 miles per hour when a Lake Bluff police officer picked up the pursuit from a Highland Park counterpart around Route 41 just south of Route 176.

According to Hosking, Lake Bluff police followed the vehicle north on Route 41 to Route 137, then east on Route 137. The driver turned south into Forestal Village, a residential area on U.S. Naval property, and drove around for awhile, then exited back onto Green Bay Road and into Lake Bluff.

“There wasn’t much drama,” Hosking said. “It was at slow speed.”

Sheppard said Naval Station officials reported a “gate runner” at about 11 p.m.

Highland Park Deputy Police Chief George Pfutzenreuter said the vehicle was traveling north on Route 41 at 10:31 p.m. when an officer attempted to stop the motorist for improper lane usage. The officer activated his emergency lights and followed the Toyota Camry for a time, signalling to the driver to stop with lights, siren blasts and a spotlight. The driver slowed to a speed of less than 30 miles per hour, seemingly acknowledging the officer’s attempt to stop him, but he did not yield, Pfutzenreuter said.

“When it was apparent that the driver was not going to yield, the officer disengaged his efforts to stop the vehicle around Route 60 and provided a description to other jurisdictions,” Pfutzenreuter said.

— Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report

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