INGLEWOOD (CBSLA) — An innocent man and woman were killed when a speeding driver believed to be under the influence of drugs slammed into their car during a pursuit near Los Angeles International Airport in Inglewood late Wednesday night.
The collision occurred at the intersection of Glasgow Avenue and Olive street, at about 10:40 p.m.
California Highway Patrol officers were in pursuit of a pick-up truck that had just run a red light as the driver was getting onto the 405 Freeway, according to a CHP spokesperson.
CHP officers followed the truck onto the freeway and attempted to pull it over. The driver refused, and a chase ensued. The truck eventually exited the freeway and sped along surface streets before T-boning the victims’ sedan.
Surveillance video captured the moment of impact.
“We ran out here and tried to help them get out, but couldn’t open the doors, the car was just mangled shut,” witness William Cole told CBSLA Thursday. “They had to cut the car in half to get the people out.”
The male driver of the sedan was rushed to a local hospital where he died from his injuries, according to CHP. His female passenger, identified Thursday by the family as 22-year-old Asia Gonzalez, was pronounced dead on scene. They said the man, who has not yet been identified, was her boyfriend. Authorities said he was also in his 20s.
The suspect, who investigators believe was under the influence of drugs, tried to run away from the scene, but was caught.
“The suspect didn’t get too far,” CHP Officer Franco Pepi said Thursday morning. “He ended up running about a block north of here, where he was apprehended by the officers that were in pursuit of the suspect.”
Security video from a nearby business captured the moment the man attempted to flee the scene.
“It was just horrible,” Daniel Marlow, the owner of that business, said. “I think a reminder, just in terms of when you’re being really reckless, you know, sometimes the ramifications, the consequences can be so much greater.”
CHP identified the driver as 42-year-old Gustavo Ruelas Jr. Officers said he has an extensive criminal history and that drugs were found in his truck.
Ruelas was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, CHP said. He was expected to face multiple charges.
“Rather than just pull over and deal with whatever the consequences are, you decided to flee from your responsibilities,” Brandon Furman, Gonzales cousin, said. “And, in the midst of that, you took two young lights off the face of this Earth.”
Furman was one of several family members laying flowers at the crash site. They described Gonzales as a kind and loving individual.
In response to whether the pursuit was justified, Pepi said the chase lasted under a minute.
“We’d like to remind the public that this pursuit lasted no more than a minute, it was a quick, short pursuit,” Pepi said.
NEW INFO: CHP identifies 42 yr old Gustavo Ruelas Jr as the suspect seen here crashing into another car & killing two people, as he tried to get away from officers in Inglewood last night. @CBSLA pic.twitter.com/oVEWEypMvE
— Tina Patel (@tina_patel) April 29, 2021