Police chase ends in crash, 1 dead

October 27, 2008 10:14:21 PM PDT
Four cars sat in a tangled mess in the middle of San Pablo Dam Road Monday afternoon, the culmination of a high-speed chase that claimed the life of a 76-year-old woman, an innocent bystander visiting the area from Arkansas.

The driver of the truck that caused the crash is 34-year-old San Quentin parolee Jordan Taitano, began his crime spree at a Richmond motel. Taitano was released from custody only four days ago; he had been serving time for drug convictions and assaulting an officer.

"He broke down the motel room door, demanded money, demand other things," California Highway Patrol spokesperson Scott Yox said. "The husband, protecting his wife, got into a struggle, and advised his wife 'get out of here, get out of here.'"

The wife, trying to escape Taitano, dove through a glass and suffered major injuries.

Taitano then carjacked a truck, telling the driver he had a gun, and led Richmond police on a 3 mile chase through San Pablo and into El Sabronte. Witnesses estimated Taitano may have been going as fast as 90 m.p.h.

Taitano's truck rear-ended a yellow Mercedes and pushed it about 150 feet before upending two more parked vehicles. He then fled the truck and ran into a backyard where he was arrested by police.

"He looked very upset, very upset; he was breathing really hard," witness Melody Gomez said. "They got him in and out of the car several times."

The woman who was killed in the crash has been identified as 76-year-old Mary Shepard of Benton, Arkansas. Her daughter and son-in-law were both seriously injured.

The accident and chase are being investigated by the CHP and the Contra Costa County district attorney's office. Taitano faces up to seven new felony charges from Monday's events.

"They take the lead and start making judgment calls about who's investigating this, who's investigating that aspect and start creating teams; and doing this in a fair and impartial manner here to look at all aspects of liability and were things done properly," Yox said.


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