VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) --A South Valley nurse is speaking to Action News after being carjacked on her way into work Friday morning.
It happened outside the Kaweah Delta Private Home Care Facility in downtown Visalia at around 10 a.m. A high-speed chase ensued, and the suspect was eventually caught in an orange orchard near Woodlake.
Police arrested 25-year-old Jose Tapia.
They say he originally carjacked a woman in downtown Visalia before leading them on a high-speed pursuit through Tulare County.
"An alert AMR Ambulance employee had spotted the vehicle traveling east on 198, east of town and coordinated with area law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol and the Tulare County Sheriff's Office," said Visalia Police Sgt. Damon Maurice.
Tapia drove in oncoming lanes and hit a parked car before ditching the Lexus near the Friant-Kern Canal, west of Woodlake.
The Lexus belongs to Barbara Mayeda, director of Kaweah Delta's Private Home Care service and a longtime nurse.
While sad about the damage to her car, she's was in pretty decent spirits overall. As she pulled into a parking space at work, she thought Tapia was going to ask her for money.
Instead, he asked if the office was open and if she spoke Spanish.
As Mayeda walked inside, Tapia ripped the keys from her wrist and jumped in her car.
"He jumped into my car and I started yelling help and screaming to call 911," Mayeda said.
Mayeda's co-workers called for help and one even took a picture of Tapia as he struggled to start the car.
"And because we could see that he did not have any weapon on him, it was easier to be upset and angry that he was driving off in my car," Mayeda said."
Mayeda is grateful for her co-workers and the quick response from law enforcement.