A car chase in the Central Business District that started shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday when two people believed to be transporting drugs in a black Chevrolet Trailblazer ran a stop sign at Canal and S. Robertson streets, ended soon thereafter with 13 damaged "civilian" cars, a fiery crash at the intersection of Poydras Street and St. Charles Avenue -- and the arrest of two boys.
A few people complained of minor injuries, but no one appeared to be seriously injured based on preliminary information, said Bob Young, a spokesman for the New Orleans Police Department.
The driver appears to be 16 years old and the passenger 14, according to preliminary information, said Officer Garry Flot, a spokesman for the department. Both will be charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, flight from police officers and possession of marijuana. The driver also will be booked with numerous traffic violations and aggravated flight from police officers, Flot said.
"I was stopped on Poydras waiting for the light, when I heard a loud boom -- like a lightning bolt. Their car smashed into a maroon Hummer waiting at the light (on Poydras at St. Charles). It had been bouncing off cars, hitting one after another as it sped down Poydras (headed toward the river)," said Doug Salzer, one of the many motorists who watched as the Hummer and Trailblazer then slid to the other side of the intersection and caught fire.
As the "two young men" bolted from the Trailblazer to make a run for it, said Salzer, one was delayed because "his pants fell down to his ankles and he had to pull them up before he ran."
Young said illegal drugs were found in the front of the Trailblazer.
The Trailblazer caught fire first, then the Hummer, sending a black plume of smoke into the sky, Young said.
The driver of the Hummer, a man who identified himself only as Ivan, said he was on his way to work when the suspects car hit his vehicle and pushed it nearly 1/2 a block.
A trail of damaged vehicles -- a Chevrolet Cobalt, a black Infinity sedan, a Ford F-150 pickup truck and a Dodge Durango among them -- marked a path to the intersection.
"They were hitting everyone's cars," said Felliper Rivera of Metairie. "They smashed up the fender on the side of my Durango and broke the mirror."
Young said police received a tip that the two men might be involved in drug activity. So, police followed them. When the driver of the Trailblazer ran the stop sign, a marked police vehicle "turned its blue lights on," he said.