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Married couple killed in Lynwood pursuit crash identified

3 people killed in Lynwood crash identified
3 people killed in Lynwood crash identified 01:46

Three people were killed and another injured in a multi-vehicle crash in Lynwood following a police pursuit that began in South Gate early Sunday.

The crash occurred at the intersection of State Street and Tweedy Boulevard at around 2:10 a.m. Sunday, according to Los Angeles Fire Department. 

Investigators said two cars collided while traveling at high rates of speed. Two people were pronounced dead at the scene.  They were identified by family members as Flavio Balderas, 60, and his wife Micaela Balderas, both Compton residents. Micaela Balderas died at a hospital, family members said.

Two others were rushed to a nearby hospital, where one was pronounced dead. That person was identified as 20-year-old L.A. resident James Griffin. The condition of the second injured person, the driver, was not immediately released. 

The L.A. County Coroner's Office confirmed the identities of Flavio Balderas and James Griffin.

Three other vehicles, all parked on the side of the road, also sustained damage in the crash. 

The incident reportedly began when a police officer saw two people tampering underneath a vehicle in South Gate, believed to be a catalytic converter theft in progress. When the two people saw the officer, they reportedly jumped into a Tesla and drove away.

A police pursuit began with lights and sirens activated.  Police said they were backing off of the pursuit as it got progressively more dangerous with the suspect vehicle traveling at high speed just moments before the collision. 

Friends and family gathered for an emotional vigil at the spot of the crash Sunday evening, where they said the Balderas were on their way home from a quinceañera. 

"We were dancing, we were having a good time, she told me 'Why don't you stay over so you don't have to drive back home,' and I said 'No Mom, the kids want to rest,'" said one of the couple's daughters.  "And I messaged her last night around 1:45 a.m. and I told her 'Are you still there?' And she sent me a picture, she said 'Yeah I'm still here.' And then I called her in the morning, she wasn't answering. I called my sister, and I just had a feeling something had happened."    

"They were both really kind people with really kind hearts and they didn't deserve this," said one woman at the vigil.   

Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives took over the investigation since the incident crossed from the city of South Gate into the city of Lynwood.

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