A woman was killed and two children injured when an MP collided with their vehicle while chasing a theft suspect. Now, several authorities are investigating.
The incident happened Wednesday night in Houston, after a Harris County sheriff’s deputy took a call about a nearby robbery where the suspect had fled the scene, police said.
Once in the area, the deputy saw a man leave a CVS and get into a car matching the description of the one involved in the theft, according to Houston Police Department Deputy Chief Chandra Hatcher.
“The deputy at that time decided to stop the vehicle during a traffic stop. The suspect did not comply and a pursuit of the vehicle ensued,” Hatcher told reporters during a late night press briefing.
As the deputy entered an intersection with his eastbound lights and sirens on, he collided with a northbound black Kia Borrego, resulting in a “major accident”, Hatcher said.
Police are still determining which vehicle was “striking” and how fast the deputy was driving, the chief said.
The impact of the collision caused the Kia to overturn and hit two other cars. The deputy’s car caught fire and crashed into a nearby parking lot, hitting several cars in the parking lot. A total of seven cars were involved in the collision, police said.
The woman driving the Kia was pronounced dead at the scene. She has not been identified pending notification to family members by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.
Two children in the car were also taken to an area hospital. A 5-year-old boy is in critical condition, while a 2-year-old girl is in stable condition, said police, who did not provide details of the children’s relationship with the driver.
The deputy, who was dragged out of his burning patrol car by several citizens, was also hospitalized and is in stable condition, the sheriff’s office noted. He has not been identified.
Three people were transported to area hospitals with minor injuries after their cars were hit, Hatcher said.
“Our deepest condolences go [to] the family of the woman who was pronounced dead in last night’s chase accident at Laura Koppe & Lockwood,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a statement. “We are praying for the recovery injured children and our deputy.”
The suspect fled the scene in what authorities believe was a gray Lincoln Town Car, according to Gonzalez.
Surveillance footage showed an armed robbery took place at CVS, Hatcher said. The sheriff’s office is investigating this incident and the first reported theft.
The Houston Police Department is leading the ongoing investigation into the fatal crash.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is also investigating the crash, Hatcher said. ABC News has contacted the bureau for more information about its investigation.
Surveillance footage obtained by ABC Houston station KTRK captured the deputy’s burning car crashing into the parking lot.
Authorities praised citizens who helped rescue the MP from his burning car.
“We are very grateful that the citizens here immediately sprang into action to help keep the deputy safe,” Hatcher said.
González noted he was “very grateful for the heroic actions”.
A good Samaritan, Johnny Walker, told KTRK in a moving interview that he was finishing a job and running outside when he heard the “boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom” of the accident.
“I ran here to see what it was and saw a lot of cars, but I was careful of the traffic light,” he told the station. “My instinct was to go to that car and help it, because it was crushed from both sides.
He said the deputy came to after taking him to a store and they checked his pulse.
“I kept telling him, ‘Stay with us. Help is on the way,'” Walker told KTRK.
Walker believes he was “in the right place at the right time”, although he said through tears that he was disappointed he was unable to help the deceased woman.
According to local reports, Walker, who is homeless, was reunited with his family after seeing him in news reports about the crash.