A woman has died, one of her 6-year-old twin boys also suffered fatal injuries, and his twin brother was injured after a suspect fleeing the police crashed into her vehicle in Contra Costa, California, on March 23.
Thirty-one-year-old Ryniqueka Dowell was in her car with her twin sons last Thursday when a man police later identified as 20-year-old Ralph Ellsworth White III crashed into her vehicle at Parker Avenue and Fourth Street just outside of the Northern California city of Hercules. White allegedly was driving a stolen Mazda SUV.
Dowell was killed in the crash upon impact and her twin boys, Jamani and Jamari Humble were seriously injured and taken to the Children’s Hospital in Oakland, according to ABC7 News. One of the twins was in critical condition and had no brain activity before the family took him off life support on March 27. His brother is suffering from a broken leg as well as other injuries.
The crash happened in unincorporated Rodeo, California, on Parker Avenue in front of the home of Lewis Porter, who was one of the first people on the scene. Porter described hearing one of the twins screaming.
“I heard the little boy yelling in the car,” said Porter to local station KGO-TV. “So I just ran straight to the car. I just tried to hold the little boy. And, two people didn’t look too good in the car. I am praying for them. I know the mom didn’t make it.”
Dowell’s cousin, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the ABC affiliate that the police should refrain from high-speed chases in residential neighborhoods.
“When a car gets into a residential neighborhood, they need to stop chasing the cars,” said Dowell’s cousin. “They don’t care. They never stop chasing them. They need to stop chasing them. If the police had stopped chasing them, then this would never have happened.”
Witness to the crash Yadbindra “Tony” Dhillon said that the accident was “the most horrific thing” he’d ever seen. “It was terrible,” he added.
Porter noted that there are police chases in his neighborhood on a weekly basis.
“Whenever they get chased, they always want to run out this way, go towards the projects, or go down and try to ditch the police,” he noted. “But there are a couple a week. At least a couple a week. Sometimes, there is more. It’s wild,” says Porter. “But it is dangerous.”
White was seen running away from the crash but was later arrested at a liquor store nearby and taken to the Martinez Detention Facility. White was charged with vehicular manslaughter, three counts of pursuit causing death or great bodily injury and possession of a stolen vehicle. The police officer who chased White is currently on paid administrative leave.
Hercules Police Chief Joseph Vasquez said that police officers spotted the Mazda SUV at around 7:27 p.m. as it exited I-80 on the Willow Avenue exit. Vasquez said the SUV was headed eastbound towards Hercules and he accelerated after the police officer pulled up close to the 2021 Mazda SUV.
A GoFundMe page set up for the family noted that the SUV was going at least 50 mph when it struck Dowell and her two boys.
According to Mercury News, the Hercules police department’s vehicle pursuit policy states that the police may pursue a suspect in a chase when the officer “reasonably believes that a suspect, who has been given an appropriate signal to stop by a law enforcement officer, is attempting to evade arrest or detention by fleeing in a vehicle.”