Man arrested after stealing Maryland State Highway truck sparks high-speed chase, injuring 1 driver and 4 officers

WTOP Traffic Reporter Dave Dildine reports on the chase through Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in Maryland on February 16, 2024.

The driver who led Maryland troopers on a chase along Route 29 and through the surrounding suburban neighborhoods in a stolen state highway truck has been arrested.

Man arrested after stealing Maryland State Highway truck, sparking high-speed chase

Officials said Flavio Cesar Lanuza, 27, of Laurel, Maryland, struck more than a dozen drivers in the state’s CHART vehicle before being arrested at 6:30 p.m. — more than an hour after the incident began.

State police believe the incident started when four vehicles were struck in a hit-and-run on the inner loop of the Beltway shortly before 5 p.m.

“One of the motorists, who was driving a Ford Ranger, fled the scene,” the department said in a press release. According to a preliminary investigation, Lanuza had driven into the I-495/I-95 Park and Ride lot before going off the road and striking a guard rail.

Afterward, police said, Lanuza “exited his Ford and stole the SHA vehicle.”

The WTOP Traffic Center reported the pursuit started on the Capital Beltway at Interstate 95 in College Park, Maryland, after reporting that the person leading police on the chase was driving a stolen Maryland State Highway Administration truck.

Lanuza was “maniacally crashing into vehicles,” including a Maryland state trooper, WTOP’s Dave Dildine reported.

Dildine reported several police agencies pursued the truck on roads including I-95, Route 1, Powder Mill Road, Old Gunpowder Road, Konterra Drive and the Intercounty Connector. Lanuza eluded police for nearly 30 miles through Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, Dildine said.  

Officers said Lanuza struck two vehicles when Maryland State Troopers attempted a stop, continuing a police chase through Beltsville, College Park, Calverton, Fairland and Laurel.

The truck veered into a parking lot at the Calverton Tower near Beltsville Road, striking a pole attached to a powerline before ramming “a Maryland State Police vehicle and several civilian vehicles,” officials said.

“During the pursuit, the vehicle struck power lines and was ramming other vehicles,” a Maryland State Police spokesperson said in a statement to WTOP. “The vehicle then struck multiple vehicles on southbound Route 29 in the area of Prelude Drive.”

The rampage culminated as Lanuza crashed into several cars near Lockwood Drive, drove off Route 29 near Burnt Mills Park and bottomed out in a wooded area near the Northwest Branch, before being taken into custody.

According to a preliminary investigation, Lanuza is alleged to have “struck 13 vehicles, which led to a civilian and two law enforcement members, a Maryland state trooper and a Montgomery County Police officer, being transported to area hospitals for treatment of their injuries,” the department said.

Charges are pending in this case, including vehicle theft and first-degree assault.

Helicopter footage captured by 7News appears to show the truck’s front left tire blowout. The loss of control happened moments before Lanuza crashed into several more vehicles, coming to a stop between White Oak and Four Corners.

Watch the police response and chase below:

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

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Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

Dave Dildine

A native to the Washington area, Dave Dildine is no stranger to the region's complex traffic and weather patterns. Dave joined WTOP in 2010 when the station launched its very own in-house traffic service. You can hear him "on the 8s and when it breaks" from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

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