100 mph Roseville police chase caused head-on crash that left four hurt, lawsuit says

A Sacramento family is suing the Roseville Police Department over the pursuit of a suspected truck thief that resulted in a 100 mph head-on collision in Citrus Heights that gravely injured them and demolished the vehicles, according to court records.

The lawsuit claims a Roseville officer was pursuing a Ford F-350 without lights or sirens in a chase that went into Citrus Heights and ended when the truck driver shot into oncoming traffic and hit a Toyota Camry Solara head-on, causing “extremely serious, near-fatal and life-altering injuries” to the occupants, including a 4-year-old.

“The mass of the Ford F-350 and its extreme speed imposed such a forceful impact upon the Solara that it ripped and mangled it to pieces, and the truck went flying into the air in a cartwheel motion onto neighboring residential properties,” according to the suit filed last week in Sacramento Superior Court.

The Oct. 24, 2022, incident began just after 9 a.m. after Officer Kelly Sibbitt got a notice of a possible stolen truck from an automated license plate reader, the suit says.

Sibbitt believed the alert matched a truck he had seen at Cirby Way and Riverside Avenue being driven by John Hayden Hart II and began following Hart from Cirby Way onto southbound Roseville Road, the suit says.

“Hart reportedly traveled more than 100 mph (the posted speed limit was 50 mph) while being pursued by Officer Sibbitt, who kept pace with Hart (by speed and distance) the entire pursuit,” the suit says.

While the chase was going on, Shannon Killion was driving a Solara northbound on Roseville Road with Gianna Villalba and Villalba’s 4-year-old daughter, Ryan, in the car, the suit says.

“There were no sirens nor lights from Officer Sibbitt’s patrol vehicle to alert and warn plaintiffs or surrounding traffic of the chase,” the suit says. “Suddenly, the Ford F-350 shot out from behind either a white van or Ford Bronco in the southbound lane and crossed over to the northbound lane traveling ‘extremely fast’ directly into the path of plaintiffs’ vehicle.

“Plaintiff Killion, who was driving the Toyota Solara, did not have time to brake or get out of the way and the truck hit the Solara head-on.”

The force of the impact left Villalba and her daughter separated for months as they recovered at separate hospitals, with the 4-year-old remaining in a hospital “well into 2023,” the suit says.

The suit contends the pursuit violated Roseville police policy, which says automated license plate readers cannot be the only basis for a traffic stop.

Roseville police did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday, and the lawsuit notes that Sibbitt claimed “he maintained a speed of 50 mph ‘due to large amounts of traffic on the roadway’ and alleged safety concerns.”

“However, the facts support that Officer Sibbitt kept pace (by speed and distance [¼ mile]) with Hart, who ultimately drove 100 mph+ per witness accounts,” the suit says.

A Roseville police Facebook post from the day of the incident warned residents that its officers were working with Citrus Heights police and the California Highway Patrol on “a major traffic accident on Roseville Road and Whyte Ave.”

“The road is closed, please avoid the area for the next several hours,” the post said.

A subsequent post from the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District showed photos of the destructive force of the crash, with one of the vehicles landing partially atop a home.

Sacramento County jail records show Hart, 39, is in custody at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center awaiting a January court hearing in a felony complaint filed after the crash.

The lawsuit comes amid increased scrutiny of how law enforcement handles vehicle pursuits, with a Sacramento Bee finding last year that Sacramento has the highest vehicle pursuit rate among California’s largest 10 cities.

The Sacramento Police Department initiated 725 chases from 2018 through 2021, a rate of about 10 chases per 1,000 reported violent or property crimes, The Bee found, with 69 chases resulting in collisions with at least one injury.

That investigation stemmed in part from a May 21, 2022, Sacramento police chase through rush-hour traffic that lasted 26 seconds and killed a couple driving for coffee in the city’s Little Saigon neighborhood.

A lawsuit over the chase was filed earlier this year on behalf of the two young children whose parents were killed in that incident.

City attorneys answered the lawsuit with a filing saying that the department “is absolutely immune” from damages and that recovery of damages is barred “because the decedents’ negligence was the proximate cause” of the crash.