HOUSTON – A driver fleeing from Houston police crashed into a gas pump Wednesday morning, igniting a fire that engulfed his small SUV. The suspect is identified as Nestor Najera, 23.
According to police, he was spotted driving on the wrong side of the road at about 10:40 a.m. in the 5700 block of Hardy Street. When officers tried to stop him, they say Najera-speed up, leading police on a high speed chase for about a mile.
Seeing the intersection blocked at Collingsworth and Elysian streets, police say Najera tried to cut through a parking lot, but sideswiped a van and lost control of his Nissan Pathfinder.
The small truck careened into a Chevron station, colliding with a gas pump, which immediately ignited.
Inside the store, manager Sayed Tarig quickly hit an emergency switch to cut off the flow of gasoline to the pumps.
“God blessing, nobody hurt, and nobody around there at that time pumping gas, God blessing.” Tarig said.
As flames shot up from beneath the truck, Najera jumped out and ran into the convenience store, pursued by about half a dozen police officers.
Damaris Montesino was standing in front of her house across the street, holding her infant daughter, when she heard the crash.
“He literally just popped the door open and ran out into the store,” she said. “Moments later, it didn’t take long for the cops to get him.”
Store security video shows Najera holding up his hands as the officers surrounded him, wrestled him to the ground and handcuffed him.
At about the same time, Houston firefighters arrived to knock down the flames and put out the fire. No one was hurt.
Police say Najera will be charged with felony evading arrest.