A woman was killed and two children injured when a deputy collided with their vehicle while chasing a suspect of robbery. Now several authorities are investigating.
The incident took place Wednesday night in Houston after a deputy for a Harris County sheriff received a call about a robbery nearby 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 that matched the description of the person involved in the robbery, according to Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Chandra Hatcher.
“The deputy at the time decided to stop the vehicle at a traffic stop. The suspect did not comply and a car chase followed,” Hatcher told reporters during a late-night press briefing.
As the deputy entered an intersection with his lights and sirens as he drove east, he collided with a black Kia Borrego driving north, resulting in a “major crash,” Hatcher said.
Police are still in the process of determining which vehicle was “striking” and how fast the deputy was driving, the chief said.
The collision caused 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 square. A total of seven cars were involved in the collision, police said.
The woman who was 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 transported to an area hospital. A 5-year-old boy is in critical condition while a 2-year-old girl is in stable condition, say police, who have not provided details about the children’s relationship with the driver.
The deputy, who was pulled out of his burning patrol car by several citizens, was also hospitalized and is in stable condition, the sheriff’s office said. said. He has not been identified.
Three people were transported to area hospitals with minor injuries after their cars were hit, Hatcher said.
“Our deepest sympathy goes out [to] the family of the woman who was pronounced dead at last night’s chase by Laura Koppe & Lockwood, “Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a statement.” We pray for the healing of the injured children and our deputy. “
The suspect fled the scene in what authorities believe is 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 the incident and the first reported robbery.
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 office for more information about the investigation.
Surveillance footage obtained by ABC Houston station KTRK caught the deputy’s blazing car crashing into the parking lot.
Authorities praised the citizens who helped save the deputy from his burning car.
“We are very grateful that the citizens out here immediately set about helping to keep the deputy as safe as possible,” Hatcher said.
Gonzalez said he was “very grateful for the heroic deeds.”
A Good Samaritan, Johnny Walker, told KTRK in an emotional interview that he was about to finish a job and ran outside when he heard “boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom” from the crash.
“I ran out here to see what it is and I saw a lot of cars, but I was aware of the fire,” he told the station. “My instincts were to go to that car and help him out, for he was crushed on both sides.”
He said the deputy came to after they brought him into a store and they checked his pulse.
“I kept talking to him, ‘Stay with us. Help is on the way,'” Walker told KTRK.
Walker believes he was “in the right place at the right time,” though through tears he said he was disappointed that they were unable to help the woman who died.
According to local reports, Walker, who is homeless, was reunited with his family after they saw him in news reports of the crash.