Neighbors in Bluff Heights were aghast Tuesday morning when a driver who’d been fleeing from police crashed, killing a woman and five dogs in the car he hit.
The woman, 41-year-old Jessica Bingaman, died at the hospital after rescuers freed her from the mangled wreckage and rushed her to get medical attention, according to police. There were six dogs in the car, four of which died at the scene. Two were taken to a local animal hospital where one of them died, police said
Neighbors said the crash happened when a white van plowed into a dark car on Third Street near Temple Avenue around 11:30 a.m. The van broadsided the car at high speed.
“I saw the white van coming this way really fast. He was going at least 60 to 70 miles per hour,” Fabio Giannone said. “By the time I opened the door, he smashed into the car.”
The crash was so violent that a tire and axle from the car flew across the street and broke a concrete wall. Three parked vehicles—a minivan, a truck and a sedan—were also damaged in the crash.
Police identified the van’s driver as 43-year-old Los Angeles resident Javier Oliverez, who is a parolee and known gang member and was wanted on a warrant for robbery, Long Beach police spokeswoman Arantxa Chavarria said.
After being taken to the hospital for minor injuries, Oliverez was booked on suspicion of evading a police officer, felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter. He is being held at the Long Beach Jail with no bail.
After first-responders tended to the injured drivers, locals watched as firefighters covered one of the dead dogs with a blanket. Another was briefly hanging out of the car’s mangled door.
Jordan Wood said crews used the Jaws of Life to cut Bingaman out of her car. Wood had calmed down one of the dogs who was still alive, drawing thanks from fire crews.
Mourners placed flowers, dog toys and candles at the site of the crash. Bingaman was a local dog walker. She had the dogs in her car as part of a daycare service she ran, police said.
Police said the chase started near Broadway and Alamitos Avenue where officers spotted the van, which had been reported stolen Monday.
The driver wouldn’t stop and officers followed, Long Beach police spokeswoman Shaunna Dandoy said.
Police will look into whether officers acted properly by chasing the van, Chavarria said. This review is typical for pursuits, she said.
When they chase someone, the LBPD mandates its officers and supervisors continually evaluate whether it’s worth the risk. Among other things, they have to consider traffic conditions, whether they’re in a residential neighborhood, the recklessness of the suspect and what he or she is wanted for.
“A police pursuit is a dangerous activity that should be engaged in with the utmost awareness of the risks to other drivers, bystanders, the officers, and the suspect(s),” the LBPD manual says. “The primary purpose of a motor vehicle pursuit is to arrest fleeing suspects with the minimum amount of force necessary and to minimize the risk of harm to people and property.”
In 2008, a passing driver was killed during a police pursuit just half a mile from the site of today’s crash.
In that case, an officer was pursuing a drunk driver who blew through stop signs and traffic signals at up to 100 mph around 2 a.m., police said at the time.
The chase ended when the suspect hit a car near Redondo Avenue and Fourth Street, killing 32-year-old Jason Allen Siebert, according to authorities.
Editor’s note: This story was updated shortly after 2:30 p.m. with the information that the woman died at the hospital. It was updated again Wednesday morning with the woman’s name.
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