A woman was killed and two children injured when a deputy collided with their vehicle while chasing a robbery suspect. Now, multiple authorities are investigating.
The incident occurred Wednesday night in Houston, after a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy picked up 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 robbery, according to Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Chandra Hatcher.
“The deputy at that point in time decided to stop the vehicle on a traffic stop. The suspect did not comply and a vehicle pursuit ensued,” Hatcher told reporters during a late-night press briefing.
As the deputy entered an intersection with his lights and sirens on traveling eastbound, he collided with a black Kia Borrego traveling northbound, resulting in a “major crash,” Hatcher said.
Police are still determining which was the “striking” vehicle, and how fast the deputy was driving, the chief said.
The impact of the collision caused the Kia to roll over and strike two other cars. The deputy’s car caught fire and crashed into a nearby parking lot, striking several cars in the lot. Seven cars total 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 transported 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 have not provided details about the kids’ relationship to 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. He has not been identified.
Three people were transported to area hospitals with minor injuries after their cars were struck, Hatcher said.
“Our deepest condolences go out [to] the family of the female that was pronounced deceased at last night’s pursuit crash at Laura Koppe & Lockwood,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a statement. “We pray for the recovery of the injured children and our deputy.”
The suspect fled the scene in what authorities believe to be a gray Lincoln Town Car, according to Gonzalez.
Surveillance footage showed that an armed robbery occurred at the CVS, Hatcher said. The sheriff’s office is investigating that incident and the first reported robbery.
The Houston Police Department is leading the ongoing investigation into the deadly crash.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is also investigating the crash, Hatcher said. ABC News has reached out to the office for more information on its investigation.
Surveillance footage obtained by ABC Houston station KTRK captured the deputy’s flaming car crashing into the parking lot.
Authorities commended the citizens who helped rescue the deputy from his burning car.
“We are very thankful that the citizens out here immediately jumped into action to help keep the deputy as safe as possible,” Hatcher said.
Gonzalez said he was “very grateful for the heroic actions.”
A good Samaritan, Johnny Walker, told KTRK in an emotional interview that he was finishing a job and ran outside when he heard the “boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom” of the crash.
“I ran out here to see what it is and I saw a lot of cars, but I paid attention to the fire,” he told the station. “My instincts were to go to that car and help him out, because he was crushed in on both sides.”
He said the deputy came to after they brought him inside 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 “at the right place at the right time,” though said through tears he was disappointed they weren’t able 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 about the crash.