Luck favored a 32-year-old Mountain View resident early Sunday following a fiery crash in downtown Palo Alto.
The as yet unidentified man suffered moderate injuries when he drove his GMC Yukon SUV through a guardrail on Alma Street and plummeted to University Avenue below, said Palo Alto police spokeswoman Sandra Brown.
Moments before the approximately 3 a.m. crash, the Yukon was seen by a police office heading south on Alma on the wrong side of the road. The driver allegedly moved into the officer’s lane as if he was trying to hit him.
The officer avoided the SUV, turned around and gave chase, but he abandoned the pursuit after losing sight of the speeding vehicle between Churchill Avenue and the Embarcadero Road overpass, police said.
The SUV continued north on Alma, but instead of following the curve in the road where it crosses over University, the vehicle smashed through a guardrail, hurtled past a pair of large oak trees and landed on its roof.
Officers found the undercarriage of the SUV engulfed in flames, police said. Firefighters ultimately used foam and water to put out the gasoline-fed fire and free the driver, who was still strapped into his seat.
“It took 10 to 15 minutes to get him out,” Brown said. “He’s lucky the gas tank didn’t explode.”
Emergency responders took the man to Stanford Hospital, where he was treated for moderate injuries.