LOS ANGELES – The Port of Los Angeles said Thursday it was reviewing security measures after a suspected car thief drove onto the sprawling complex during a police chase and climbed to the top of a loading crane, dangling over edges and stripping naked before falling to his death.
The man plunged 160 feet (49 meters) to the ground and died about three hours after he first scaled the crane Wednesday night. It's not clear whether he slipped or jumped deliberately, Los Angeles fire officials said.
The coroner's office on Thursday identified the man as 23-year-old James Llamas. Officials did not immediately know where he lived.
Police in Los Angeles spotted the Subaru SUV reported stolen from a dealership in San Bernardino, and an hours-long chase ensued, the LAPD said.
Several television stations broadcast the chase live, showing the vehicle swerving at high speed through freeway traffic in Los Angeles and Long Beach, sometimes crossing into oncoming lanes.
Llamas drove through a security gate and into a container terminal at the vast Port of Los Angeles property, circling back and forth under giant loading cranes and next to a docked ship before jumping out of the still-moving SUV and racing up the stairs of the crane. He broke a window and climbed into the crane cab, then climbed out, walked to the end of the crane over water as darkness fell.
Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino said Thursday he's concerned with how easily the SUV was able to blow past the port's security gate.
Port spokeswoman Rachel Campbell said port police launched an investigation "into all circumstances regarding Wednesday evening's incident, including the security breach at the container terminal. This thorough review, including protocols necessary to address improvements, will be completed as soon as possible."
Port workers stopped working and watched the scene, some with binoculars.
Police waited below for him for hours, worried that if they approached he might slip or jump.
As news helicopters hovered above, he shed his Lakers jersey and shoes, then later took off the rest of his clothes. He dangled and nearly fell several times before eventually plunging to the ground.
"Our officers were nowhere near to close proximity of the suspect at the time that he fell," Detective Meghan Aguilar said.
Eric Nosser, a salesman at the Subaru dealership where the SUV was stolen, said he saw the man but steered clear.
"I let him be, because he seemed on edge," Nosser told KNBC-TV. "I figured he'd just kind of walk off and go about his business."
Instead the man found an SUV with the keys in it, got inside and took off.