Two families were in mourning Wednesday following a devastating crash in Panorama City at the end of a police pursuit that left two fathers dead — innocent bystanders whose car was violently struck by the driver of an allegedly stolen pickup.
Relatives and friends identified the pair who were killed as Chris Teagarden, 46, of Granada Hills, and Tim Schultz, 49, who were long-time friends. According to reports from the scene, both were fathers — Teagarden with an 18-year-old son and Schultz with a 16-year-old daughter — and the men were on their way home after going out for tacos.
Police said the chase began at 7:48 p.m. Tuesday in the 1000 block of South Alvarado Street, near Olympic Boulevard in the Westlake district, after Los Angeles Police Department officers received a call regarding a stolen black Toyota Tacoma, Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton told reporters.
The two suspects in the truck noticed that police were following them and they “began to take evasive measures to get away from the officers,” Hamilton said.
The driver of the truck sped into Panorama City, driving north on Woodman Avenue, where the vehicle crashed into a Honda Civic with two adults inside.
One of victims in the Honda was pronounced dead at the scene and the other victim died en route to a hospital, police said.
The suspects fled on foot after the crash but were quickly captured. One suspect “sustained injuries during a use of force takedown” and was also shot with a Taser during the arrest, Hamilton said.
Police identified one of the suspects, the alleged driver, as Oscar Delacruz, 32, who was booked on suspicion of murder and was being held without bail. No information was immediately available about the second suspect.
Teagarden’s sister, Joellen Ammann, told reporters Wednesday morning near the crash scene that Teagarden had a son who just turned 18.
“He was a hard worker. He owned a business,” she said. “He raised my nephew with his wife. He took care of my mom. My brother coached Little League in Granada Hills for a long time. He loved baseball. … A huge Dodger fan.
“He was loved by so many. He has nieces and nephews and my children that are gonna miss him. He was like the life of our family, and he’s gonna be missed, and it’s never going to be the same without him.”
She added, “I don’t understand. It didn’t have to be this way. A stolen truck isn’t worth it. It’s not. Like, my mom is still sitting at home right now waiting for my brother to come home.”
Police indicated that officers who were following the truck had broken off the pursuit and gone into “tracking” mode — with a police helicopter overhead — but the suspect continued driving at high speed, leading to the crash occurred.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said Wednesday the agency will investigate to ensure officers followed proper procedures in the chase.
“To the public that looks to the circumstances of why the department was pursuing that individual, was it consistent with our policies and expectations, we will have more information on that as the information becomes known,” he said.