Two drivers were killed when a vehicle being pursued by police in La Verne collided with another car Thursday night. Three passengers were hospitalized in critical condition following the crash.
The incident began about 8:50 p.m. when police officers attempted to pull over a red Acura Integra for running a stop sign in the area of White Avenue and Arrow Highway, the La Verne Police Department stated in a news release.
The driver decided to flee from police and was seen running at least one red traffic light as he eluded authorities.
The pursuit continued for only about 20 seconds before the Acura collided with a black Toyota Corolla near the intersection of White Avenue and College Lane.
Two people in the Corolla and three in the Acura were transported to local hospitals for treatment.
The drivers of both vehicles were pronounced dead after arriving at the hospital, police said.
All three passengers were listed in critical condition.
The Acura appeared to be traveling at a high rate of speed at the time it struck the innocent victims in the Toyota, Police Chief Nick Paz said.
The driver who died in the Toyota was identified as 68-year-old Marlet Reyes of La Verne.
She was just yards from her home and on a trip to Target at the time of the crash, according to relatives. Her niece, Lizzeth Jacobo, said she was with a close friend who was left critically injured.
Loved ones said the other woman, who is 64, suffered a punctured lung, broken neck and broken pelvis.
Jacobo said she was believing Reyes could survive since she was still alive when she got to the hospital. She was expected to undergo surgery but then went into cardiac arrest.
She said the family was still trying to come to grips with the sudden loss, which took place while Reyes was making a quick trip to a local store. The niece added that her aunt was known for helping loved ones.
"I just can’t imagine. It’s hard. It’s hard. We’re trying to pull it together," Jacobo said.
The name of the Acura driver and the identities of the passengers were not released Friday.
It was unclear why the Acura driver decided to flee from police, Paz said.
Jacobo urged others not to endanger innocent lives by fleeing from police.
"If a cops pulling you over, just stop. Why do we have to go through a pursuit? Because the outcome is not good," she said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact La Verne police at 909-596-1913 regarding report number 190801729.
KTLA's Brian Day contributed to this report.