The woman that led authorities on a high-speed chase in a black Chevy Avalanche from Fountain Valley to Culver City on Monday afternoon before being subdued by several California Highway Patrol officers, has been identified as 56-year-old Debra Penkoff.
KTLA reports Penkoff is a former real estate agent from Orange County who was convicted of a DUI in 2006. She currently lives in Costa Mesa where neighbors told KTLA she rents a room in a recovery house.
After Penkoff was taken into custody, she was transported to Brotman Medical Center in Culver City for a mental evaluation after authorities said they believed she was suicidal.
Captain Mike Simko of Fountain Valley Police reported that Penkoff had an "unusual" protruding hose from her vehicle when she drove off from a Fountain Valley parking lot at 1733 Brookhurst St. shortly after 3 p.m. Monday. Witnesses said they saw her “behaving strangely.” Initially authorities thought she may have been trying to siphon gas from other people’s cars and then said it appeared she was trying to commit suicide by inhaling the fumes via the hose in her car.
After heading into Los Angeles on the freeways and driving in the 405 carpool lane in Culver City, Penkoff swerved across the freeway and stopped briefly on an offramp before turning back into traffic and hitting the side of a white Prius. She then reportedly crashed into a fence before hitting a power pole and sideswiping yet another car before exiting the freeway onto Sepulveda Boulevard.
After CHP officers tried to stop Penkoff’s car with a PIT maneuver, she managed to continue driving before stopping at Tuller Avenue and Culver Boulevard. Penkoff then got out of her vehicle and pointed at CHP officers surrounding her with her hands clasped, as if she was simulating pointing a gun. Penkoff briefly got on the ground, then got up and tried to get back in her vehicle, at which point officers rushed her and dragged her to the pavement.
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