INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Two people are dead and a third person remains in the hospital following a deadly crash overnight.
Police say the incident began around 1 a.m. when an IMPD Northwest District Supervisor saw a red Ford Mustang speeding past him on Lafayette Road at 80 miles per hour.
The police supervisor activated his emergency equipment to conduct a traffic stop.
It appeared the driver was pulling over in the area of 34th Street and Lafayette Road, but the Mustang suddenly took off at a high rate of speed westbound on 34th Street.
The police sergeant chased the suspect down 34th street, but terminated the pursuit after less than a minute.
Just over a mile away from where the pursuit was terminated, the police supervisor found the driver of the red Mustang crashed into a tree near 34th and High School road.
“This isn’t a 50-60 miles per hour collision. This is a very high speed collision that caused the vehicle to separate into two large pieces. This was very fast and massive collision,” IMPD Major Harold Turner said. "This individual was driving recklessly and he chose to flee and evade the police,. Whoever was driving this vehicle chose not to slow down even after not being pursued.”
Debris from the crash damaged 3 other cars in the area.
27-year-old Joan Bothwell Diaz and 20-year-old Luis Perez died on the scene. A third person, Christian Vera remains hospitalized, but is expected to survive.
Police didn’t specify who was behind the wheel, but court records show all three occupants had previously been charged for driving without a license in Marion County. Perez also had three active warrants for his arrest.
“An experienced veteran officer made the decision that it wasn’t worth the risk of his own safety and the risk of the citizens in this area. Unfortunately the driver just kept going,” said Turner.
The fatal crash comes as IMPD is set to begin training officers on a new pursuit policy replacing the old rules that have been in effect for 12 years.
In late June, following a pair of fatal crashes that involved police pursuits, leaders at IMPD confirmed a new pursuit policy had been approved and the department will soon begin training officers on the changes. The new policy will better define when officers should initiate a chase.
“Hopefully the public will realize we’re taking them into account and don’t want to put them into danger on something very minor. The new policy takes into account more so why we’re pursuing,” said IMPD assistant chief Randal Taylor. The goal is to get it shut down as quickly as possible and come to a conclusion without injury or damage and I think the new policy will aid us in some of that.”
Right now the IMPD does not have an exact timeline for how long it will take to get all their officers and supervisors trained on the policy changes.
The Marion County Coroner will assist with the investigation and will determine the exact manner and cause of death.