Dozens of police cars pursued a suspected carjacker in a high-speed chase through four counties between Baltimore and Washington last night before cornering him in heavy traffic on U.S. 50 and freeing the helpless passengers in rear seats of a stolen sport utility vehicle - two tiny children - unharmed.
The episode, which covered almost 200 miles, began about 8 p.m. in Baltimore, near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Pennsylvania Avenue, where city police spotted and took up pursuit of a stolen Infiniti whose driver they said tried to run down an officer.
A male passenger in the car jumped out, and it was not known whether he was captured. The officer was not injured.
Followed by a city police helicopter and police cars from several jurisdictions, the driver fled south on Interstate 95 and eventually reached River Road in Rockville, in Montgomery County, where he abandoned it.
Standing in the middle of the road, he flagged down a late-model Mercedes-Benz SUV whose female driver stopped, thinking the man needed help, police said.
Instead, he pulled the woman from her vehicle and sped off, leaving her screaming for her children, ages 3 months and 18 months, who were inside, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman said.
As the carjacking was reported, the pursuit was growing, with more police cars and then television news helicopters keeping pace. But with young children in the SUV, options for stopping it were limited.
From Rockville, the driver tried to elude capture as he led authorities along interstates in Montgomery, Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Howard and Baltimore counties, and back again.
He drove east on U.S. 50 in Anne Arundel, nearing the Bay Bridge, then turned around and headed back on the divided highway toward Annapolis with police behind him.
About 10 p.m., nearing the Prince George's County border, the SUV was stopped by heavily armed police after slowing in traffic and being cut off and bumped by another vehicle, apparently a police cruiser.
The man, who had not been charged early today, was arrested without further incident, police said.
The children were reunited with their parents at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, where they were taken for checkups, police said.
The names of the couple, their children and the suspect were not released last night.