Contra Costa County

Pursuit Suspect Crashes Into Car in Rodeo, Killing Mom, Injuring 6-Year-Old Twins

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A 31-year-old mother was killed and her twin 6-year-old sons were injured after a police chase in the East Bay ended with a crash Thursday night.

One of the boys was in critical condition, officials said.

The crash happened in the Contra Costa County town of Rodeo, not far from Hercules. The suspect, identified as Ralph Ellsworth White III, 20, of Vallejo fled the scene but was taken into custody a short time later at a nearby liquor store, according to police.

At least one person was killed after a pursuit in the East Bay ended with a crash Thursday night. Emma Goss reports.

Hercules police began the chase after spotting a suspect driving a stolen white Mazda SUV at around 7:20 p.m. During the chase, they lost site of the vehicle until they came upon it at the scene of a crash. The suspect had slammed into a gray Nissan.

"As our officers attempted to pull behind the [suspect] vehicle, the vehicle immediately accelerated," Hercules police Chief Joseph Vasquez said. "The officers then initiated a pursuit, which lasted less than 30 seconds, before the vehicle ultimately and unfortunately collided into an uninvolved vehicle."

The Nissan's driver died at the scene, and one of her 6-year-old twin sons was airlifted to Oakland Children's Hospital in critical condition, officials said. The victims were not immediately identified.

"She was a loving mom, she played sports, healthy, took care of her kids," said Tommie Lewis, a cousin of the victim. "This didn't deserve to happen this way."

Rodeo resident Clayton Winfrey witnessed the incident and said a major accident like this is unusual in the small, quiet neighborhood.

“The loss of life is just ridiculous," he said. "I don’t know whose fault this is. I mean when you have a high speed pursuit sometimes you let the situation go, so, you don't have situations like this, but that's just my opinion."

Vasquez said they will reevaluate their pursuit policies.

"I think in this situation here everything was so fast and so fluid," he said. "There really wasn’t time to determine that the pursuit needed to be canceled at that point."

White faces multiple charges, including vehicular manslaughter and leading a pursuit causing death or great bodily injury. He is being held at the Contra Costa County jail in Martinez on $375,000 bail.

The investigation is being handled by Hercules police, the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office and the county District Attorney's Office.

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