‘He thought he was going to Laguna Beach’ - Chinese student 'who led police on high-speed chase' released on US$75,000 bail

Zhou Yuan, a UC Irvine international student, has been charged with reckless driving

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 5:25pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 February, 2014, 9:03am

An 18-year-old Chinese student accused of leading police on a high-speed chase along California's Pacific Coast Highway was released on US$75,000 (HK$582,000) bail on the morning of February 21.

Zhou Yuan, a University of California, Irvine exchange student, was booked on the grounds of reckless driving and felony evading, according to statements from California Highway Patrol officers and reports from local news station KLTA

Local police flagged Zhou's BMW 750i sedan for speeding and weaving between traffic lanes on the evening of Febuary 20. 

After Zhou allegedly ignored requests to stop, a 200km/h chase along two Los Angeles freeways began.

Police said they were forced to deliberately push against the back bumper of Zhou's vehicle to make the driver come to a halt.

Helicopter footage from the incident allegedly shows Zhou throwing car keys from his window upon surrendering and armed police forcing him from his vehicle and to the ground.

Two 19-year-old passengers - Zhou Wangshuang and Chen Lu - were in the car with Zhou at the time of arrest.

Also UC Irvine international students, they were not taken into police custody and were instead dropped off at a nearby gas station before finding their own transportation back to campus.

According to California Highway Patrol Sergeant Elizabeth Van Valkenburgh, Zhou and his passengers were "all Chinese nationals" who had told police that they "thought they were going to Laguna Beach".

"They were going in the wrong direction," Valkenburgh said. 

During his arrest, Zhou told reporters that his BMW "was a new car and he had obtained his driver's licence about two months ago". 

Allegedly, he also repeatedly said that he was "afraid of the California Highway Patrol" and "did not understand" why he had been chased.

According to UC Irvine spokespersons, Zhou is enrolled in a UC Irvine Extension programme, taking ESL and cultural education classes in preparation for a full-time undergraduate degree.

He is currently scheduled for a March 21 court appearance.