A driver who was eluding police and heading east in the westbound lanes of Interstate 66 crashed into oncoming traffic and caused a five-car pileup during the evening rush yesterday, closing one side of the highway for nearly five hours, police said.

The driver, who was unconscious after the collision, was flown to a local hospital with unspecified injuries. Three people in the cars that were struck were treated at hospitals, said Matt Martin, a spokesman for Arlington County police. None of the injuries was believed to be life-threatening.

Martin said the incident began about 6:15 p.m., when U.S. Park Police officers tried to pull over the driver of a red SUV on Suitland Parkway in Prince George's County. The vehicle sped away, and officers briefly pursued the driver before stopping because of traffic.

A Park Police officer in an unmarked cruiser spotted the vehicle in the District and began to follow it. Other police cars joined in, and the driver tried to strike two cruisers before speeding onto westbound I-66 about 7 p.m.

About four miles later, the SUV spun out after the driver tried to exit at high speed onto North Sycamore Street in the East Falls Church area, Martin said. The driver then headed east in westbound lanes of I-66, crashing into the other cars nearly a mile later.

The lanes that had been closed, from Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge to North Sycamore Street, were reopened shortly before midnight.

No charges had been filed late last night.