A man now charged with two counts of murder for the deaths of two small children in a crash last week involving a stolen truck made his initial court appearance Monday in Martinez, Contra Costa County prosecutors said.
Noe Saucedo, 23, of Pittsburg, was charged with a second murder after 2-year-old Camila Cardoza, who was injured in the collision Wednesday afternoon in Antioch, died.
Camila's 4-year-old sister Lenexy Cardoza died in a hospital shortly after the collision on Somersville Road on Wednesday. Their mother also was injured and taken to a hospital after the collision.
Sheriff's officials said Saucedo remains in the county jail. His bail was increased Monday by $1 million to $2.13 million. He didn't enter a plea and will return to court on Jan. 29.
The events leading up the collision unfolded at about 12:45 p.m. Wednesday when sheriff's officials received a call about a stolen Ford F-250 in Pittsburg.
A short while later, a deputy spotted the truck on Bailey Road and followed it as it went east on state Highway 4. The deputy initially did not turn on his emergency lights.
Sheriff's officials said as Saucedo exited the highway at Somersville Road, he allegedly sped up, prompting the deputy to turn on his emergency lights.
Then Saucedo allegedly drove through a red light and the Ford F-250 he was in collided with a Ford F-150 with the two girls and their mother inside.
Saucedo was also charged with felony evading, possessing a stolen vehicle, possessing methamphetamine and possessing heroin.
Sheriff's officials are trying to determine why Saucedo allegedly stole the truck, sped away from the deputy and ran the red light.
Investigators are also trying to find out whether he was impaired as he was driving.
"Clearly, suspect Saucedo took a series of actions that led to this tragedy," Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston said in a statement. "We are saddened by the loss of life and offer our deepest sympathies to the family."
Suacedo's family spoke on the courthouse steps Monday, telling NBC Bay Area the Cardoza girls were their distant relatives.
"The grandpa of the girls is my dad's cousin," said a woman who identified herself as Saucedo's sister. She added that her brother was in a troubled state of mind. "He wasn’t doing well. He was hanging out with the wrong crowd. He was doing drugs, and that was something our family never hid from anyone."
Anyone with any information about the collision or anyone who witnessed it is asked to call the sheriff's investigation division at (925) 313-2600. For any tips, sheriff's officials are asking people to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.
NBC Bay Area's Anoushah Rasta contributed to this report.