Man climbs 160-foot-tall crane at Port of Los Angeles after pursuit, strips naked, plummets to his death

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SAN PEDRO, Calif. -- A suspected car thief plummeted to his death Wednesday night, hours after climbing onto a crane at the Port of Los Angeles after a reckless pursuit that spanned multiple cities and involved several agencies, officials said.

The man fell off the crane about 9:20 p.m. Within minutes, emergency personnel could be seen placing a white sheet over his body, aerial video from KTLA showed.

He fell about 160 feet and was pronounced dead at the scene, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

It was unclear if the the man had jumped or if the tumble was accidental.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office identified the man as 23-year-old James Llamas, KTLA reported. A city of residence was not immediately known.

Before the fatal fall, Llamas had exhibited bizarre behavior while atop the crane tower, at times doing handstands and crunches while continuing to evade police, aerial video showed.

At some point, he also stripped naked.

Before climbing onto the crane, Llamas could be seen driving in and out of lanes at the port in a white 2018 Subaru, according to the footage.

The stolen SUV had paper license plates and had a tracking device that authorities used to find it.

The incident began about 3:10 p.m., when the Los Angeles Police Department received a call about a vehicle being stolen out of San Bernardino, police said.

Officials were in pursuit of the SUV earlier, but lost it on a freeway. Torrance police later picked it up, but called off the pursuit; the SUV was then chased by Long Beach police.

After driving erratically through lanes at the port, Llamas got out of the SUV and began climbing the stairs of a crane tower at the West Basin Container Terminal, sometimes backward.

Llamas then broke a window and climbed into a hole in the crane then continued walking around, in an effort to avoid police.

Police surrounded the area and tried to convince Llamas to surrender.

Patrick Bates, a crane operator who works for yard, said Llamas was on the tallest crane in the harbor before he fell.

Bates said he was leaving work when he passed Llamas.

“I knew something bad was happening,” Bates said.

"It was unbelievable, the height of that, it takes your breath away, I don’t care how long you’ve been doing it," he said referring to the crane. "He was up there doing things that I just could not believe."

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