A Lakeport man suspected of intentionally crashing into stopped traffic on Highway 101, stealing another motorist’s phone then leading law enforcement on a high-speed pursuit remained in custody Saturday in Marin County Jail, CHP officials said.
Authorities suspect Neil Anthony Hart, 58, of Lakeport was under the influence of drugs Thursday in San Francisco when he picked up a transient man and drove north, CHP officials said.
Traffic was backed up on northbound Highway 101 in San Rafael about 8:40 p.m. because of a rollover crash when reports came in that a driver appeared to have intentionally rammed a stopped vehicle, officials said.
The aggressive driver, later identified as Hart, confronted the victim of the crashed vehicle, took the person’s cellphone then fled north, according to the CHP.
At this point, a passenger in Hart’s car decided he wanted to get out of the vehicle but Hart wouldn’t let him and a physical fight between the men followed, witnessed by other drivers, officials said.
A 911 caller reported the fight — in a vehicle traveling at highway speeds — to the CHP.
A CHP officer began following the vehicle in Novato, but Hart sped away, hitting speeds nearing 100 mph, officials said.
Hart pulled off the highway in Cotati and eventually pulled into the parking lot of an apartment complex on Enterprise Drive, according to the official report. By this time, a team of officers had joined the pursuit as well as a CHP helicopter. Officers learned his passenger, a 59-year-old transient, met Hart in San Francisco earlier that evening but wanted to get out of the vehicle after Hart crashed into the other vehicle and took the driver’s phone. The transient told officers he was trying to get out of the vehicle when the physical fight occurred on the highway.
Hart was arrested on suspicion of felony robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and evading police and several misdemeanor crimes including false imprisonment, battery, driving with a suspended license and driving while intoxicated, jail records show. His bail is $75,000.
You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jjpressdem.