A vehicle fleeing from Royal Oak police crashed into a light pole at Woodward and South Washington avenues in the early morning hours of March 17. Police said the driver, 18-year-old Souhib Zokari, died at Beaumont Hospital as a result of his injuries.

A vehicle fleeing from Royal Oak police crashed into a light pole at Woodward and South Washington avenues in the early morning hours of March 17. Police said the driver, 18-year-old Souhib Zokari, died at Beaumont Hospital as a result of his injuries.

Screenshot from video provided by the Royal Oak Police Department


High-speed police chase ends in fatal single-vehicle crash

By: Sarah Wojcik | C&G Newspapers | Published March 22, 2021

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ROYAL OAK/MADISON HEIGHTS — An 18-year-old is dead following a high-speed police chase that began in Madison Heights and ended with the fleeing driver striking a light pole at southbound Woodward and South Washington avenues in Royal Oak.

At approximately 1:45 a.m. March 17, a Madison Heights Police Department officer initiated a traffic stop on a black Nissan Altima that then fled northbound toward Royal Oak.

“Our officer attempted to stop the vehicle for traffic violations,” Madison Heights Police Lt. Michael Siladke said in an email. “The vehicle did not stop, and fled from our officer northbound on John R from Progress (Drive), at which point we terminated our efforts to pursue.”

After police terminated the pursuit at the city border near 11 Mile and John R roads, Royal Oak police officers observed the suspect vehicle, which did not have a license plate, traveling westbound on 11 Mile Road, near Stephenson Highway, according to a police press release.

Police attempted to stop the wanted vehicle at 11 Mile and Campbell roads, but the driver fled at a high rate of speed. He continued westbound on 11 Mile Road at speeds that exceeded 90 mph in an attempt to evade officers, according to the release.

The driver turned south on Woodward Avenue from 11 Mile Road, then lost control of his vehicle and struck a light pole at southbound Woodward and South Washington avenues.

In a dashboard camera video released by the Royal Oak Police Department, the fleeing vehicle sped through multiple red lights. Because of the time of night, very few other drivers could be seen on the road. The video lasts for 2 minutes and 43 seconds.

It appeared that the driver attempted to veer right on South Washington Avenue, but lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a light pole, making contact at the driver’s side door, yards away from the Detroit Zoo water tower.

As soon as the fleeing vehicle lost control, the pursuing officer radioed for Fire Department personnel and backup.

The Royal Oak Fire Department responded to the scene. Police officers were unable to render aid to the driver because he was trapped inside the vehicle from the impact of the crash, according to the release. Fire personnel used the Jaws of Life, a hydraulic rescue tool, to free the driver and transported him to Beaumont Hospital.

The driver, identified as 18-year-old Souhib Zokari, died as a result of his injuries suffered in the crash, and officials pronounced him deceased at the hospital, according to the release.

Asked about some of the common reasons that drivers flee from police — warrants for their arrest, something illegal in the vehicle, intoxication — Sgt. Richard Millard, of the Royal Oak Police Department, said none of those were apparent in this case.

“As far as we know there was nothing illegal in the car, but the crash damage combined with the extensive extrication damage made a thorough search impossible,” Millard said in an email. “The car was not stolen. Whether drugs or alcohol were a factor is not known at this time.”

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office responded to investigate the crash. The Sheriff’s Office did not respond to a request for comment before press time.

The Royal Oak Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the incident. Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact Lt. Al Carter at (248) 246-3456.

Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski contributed to this report.

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