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Family, Community Mourn After Woman Killed, Children Injured in Rodeo Crash

NBC Bay Area 3/25/2023 Thom Jensen
© Provided by NBC Bay Area

Family members are grieving and a community is asking for answers after a high-speed police chase in the East Bay led to a deadly crash in Rodeo.

A 31-year-old mother was killed in the wreck and her two twin 6-year-old boys are hospitalized. One of them is in critical condition.

Tommie Lewis, a cousin of the woman killed in the crash visited the crash site in Rodeo Friday afternoon.

“She was a loving mom, played sports, healthy, took care of her kids. They just didn’t deserve this to happen this way,” he said.

According to Hercules police, one of his officers pulled in behind a reported stolen SUV in Hercules, when the driver accelerated immediately.

There was a short pursuit and the SUV slammed into a Nissan driven by the victim, who had her two twin 6-year-old boys in the backseat.

Francis Tornabene De Sousa placed flowers at the site of the crash Friday. She said it’s a needless tragedy that she thinks would have been avoided if police did not chase after the driver.

“Nobody thinks that kind of chase is okay. They had no place to go, and they know that. The other thing is they have no business being in Rodeo,” she said.

After a foot chase, police arrested 20-year-old Ralph Elsworth White III of Vallejo. He's jailed and charged with one count of vehicular manslaughter and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Hercules Police Chief Joseph Vasquez said the entire department is heartbroken about what happened.

“Words can’t describe what we’re all feeling right now,” he said.

Vazquez said he’s reviewing the department’s policies towards high-speed chases.

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

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