A 20-year-old man from Vallejo has been charged with murder after an allegedly stolen SUV he was driving crashed into a woman's car in Rodeo last week, killing her and one of her twin sons, and injuring the other.
Ralph Ellsworth White III of Vallejo was arraigned in Contra Costa County on Wednesday afternoon on two counts of murder with enhancements for committing the offenses while on bail. White also faces charges of fleeing a pursuing peace officer’s vehicle and causing serious bodily injury, a hit-and-run resulting in the death or injury to another person, carrying a loaded unregistered firearm, and receiving stolen property.
Hercules police officers, operating on information from sheriff's deputies, attempted to pull White over on the evening of March 23 after spotting him driving a white Mazda SUV that was reported stolen, on eastbound I-80. White allegedly sped away, exited, and then crashed into the car belonging to 31-year-old Ryniqueka Dowell, in the town of Rodeo. Officer said that White attempted to flee the scene on foot, but he was apprehended in a nearby liquor store.
The crash killed Dowell instantly, and injured her six-year-old twin sons – one of whom, Jamari Humble, died on March 27. Her other son, Jamani, suffered a broken leg and other injuries.
Surveillance video obtained by KTVU shows the moment of impact — at the upper right corner of the video around the 1:20 mark — and shows the driver of the white Mazda exit and run down the street, then jump a fence.
Family members have spoken to KTVU about the tragedy, saying that they are facing a lot of pain.
"We're dealing with not only the loss of Ryniqueka but of Jamari," said cousin Ranesha Moore, speaking to KTVU."His brother needs him. But he's no longer here."
A GoFundMe has been set up to help with funeral expenses.
Hercules police may face criticism for having initiated the chase at all, given that high-speed chases — especially over crimes like auto theft — can have tragic consequences for innocent drivers.
Hercules Police Chief Joe Vasquez tells KTVU that the officers only pursued White for a half mile, and "did not have time to weigh whether to abandon the pursuit."
"It's really tragic," Vasquez tells the station. "It's sad in every sense of the word and my heart goes out to the family."