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A San Francisco man was arrested in Lafayette early this morning after leading authorities on a car chase that ended with a crash into a power pole that knocked out power to nearly 1,800 PG&E customers. A Lafayette police officer attempted to stop a black Ford truck that was driving erratically on eastbound state Highway 24 near the Oak Hill Road exit around 2:40 a.m., police said.
The truck initially stopped on the Oak Hill Road off-ramp but then drove off, leading the officer on a chase onto Deer Hill and Happy Valley roads. California Highway Patrol officers, who had also apparently been searching for the truck, assisted Lafayette police. The chase stopped abruptly when the car crashed into a utility pole on Soares Lane near Happy Valley Road, police said.
The crash sheared off the power pole and downed some wires. Police were able to catch the driver, identified as 38-year-old Mark Bianchini, after a brief foot chase. Officers discovered that the car Bianchini was driving had been reported stolen from Castro Valley several days earlier. He was arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft, felony evasion, possession of stolen property, drug possession and resisting arrest. Officers took him to county jail in Martinez, where he is being held on $95,000 bail.
The early morning crash knocked out power to some 1,800 customers in the area, but power was quickly restored to all but about 10 of those customers, PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris said. Power should be fully restored to the remaining customers by 7 p.m., and PG&E crews are on the scene making repairs to the downed power line, Morris said. Happy Valley Road at Upper Happy Valley Road is expected to remain closed until late this afternoon while crews complete repair work.
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