Pasadena, CA – A thief stole a hearse with a casket inside it in Pasadena on Wednesday and led police on a chase that ended in a crash on Thursday morning.
A few hours later, a group of teenagers in Columbus, Ohio crashed a stolen hearse with a body inside it into a utility pole after doing donuts in a school parking lot.
The first incident occurred at about 8 p.m. on Feb. 26 when a black 2017 Lincoln Navigator was stolen from outside St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Church, KCAL reported.
Police said the driver was dropping a casket off for a funeral at St. Anthony’s and left the hearse running outside with another body inside it.
The thief snatched the funeral home’s SUV and took off with the dead woman’s body in the back.
As officers began searching for the stolen hearse, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department put social media to use.
“To the suspect(s) driving around in a Black Lincoln Navigator stolen from the 700 blk of Rosemead Bl just after 8 PM today in uninc #Pasadena: Out of all the bad decisions you have made, at least make one good one & bring back the deceased person & casket inside the Navigator,” they tweeted.
A citizen spotted the stolen hearse on Thursday morning and contacted the police, NBC News reported.
Deputies located the stolen vehicle and a pursuit began down a Los Angeles freeway.
The chase lasted 15 minutes and ended when the SUV crashed on Interstate 110.
There were no serious injuries related to the crash and the casket was found still inside the hearse, NBC News reported.
Police arrested 25-year-old James Juarez at the scene.
He was charged with felony grand theft auto and jail records said bail had been set at $35,000, NBC News reported.
Meanwhile, in Columbus, Ohio, a group of teenagers hijacked a hearse that was left running outside the Jerry Spears funeral home with a casket inside it on Thursday afternoon, WSYX reported.
A witness told WSYX that he was driving down West Broad Street on Feb. 27 when the hearse struck his vehicle as it made its getaway from the funeral home.
Bobby Pardon said he watched the crazy scene unfold, WSYX reported.
“In all honesty, I thought it was a little old lady and I am saying to myself what is this little old lady doing driving this big old hearse. When it hit me,” Pardon said.
“They started doing donuts in the school parking lot across the street, hit a dumpster, knocked the dumpster over,” he told WSYX. “I kind of laughed about it a few times, but then it hits me that there was someone in the back being thrown around while these kids are doing donuts. It’s disrespectful.”
The teens eventually slammed the hearse into a utility pole in the parking lot and jumped out and fled, leaving the stolen vehicle with the dead body inside it behind.
Police have not made any arrests in connection with the incident.
Pardon said he had just paid off his car and he was not happy about the damage, WSYX reported.
“My frame is bent. It’s out of line. It’s not safe to drive. I can’t afford to fix it,” he complained.
Bob Spears, the owner of the funeral home from which the hearse was stolen, said he would pay for Pardon’s damage, WSYX reported.
Spears said the funeral had already been held for the person in the stolen hearse and that the body was on its way to the crematorium when it was stolen.
“Fortunately it wasn’t worse,” he told WSYX. “It’s scary to me that someone would steal a car right in front of us. The disrespect is appalling.”