A 22-year-old man has been charged with three counts of murder for a violent collision in South Los Angeles that killed a man, a woman and their 5-year-old daughter and badly injured the girl’s sister, the L.A. district attorney announced Thursday.
Jordan Kahari Isaac was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol on New Year’s Eve when he ran a stop sign and plowed into a sedan occupied by Jose Pascagaza, 49, his wife, Luisa Bernal, 30, and their daughters Mia, 5, and Hanna, who just turned 2. The toddler suffered traumatic injuries but is expected to recover, authorities said.
Authorities said that just before the deadly crash, Isaac, driving a white Chevrolet Tahoe, rear-ended another car several blocks away, injuring the driver. Instead of stopping, he allegedly sped away, driving over 60 mph in a 25 mph residential zone, and ran a stop sign before T-boning the sedan.
The collision “was so violent and had so much force” that the sedan was pushed across the intersection, knocking over a street sign and crashing into a fence before coming to a stop by a parking lot, LAPD Detective Ryan Moreno said in a news conference posted by Fox LA.
Bystanders who tried to help free the victims from their car told investigators the collision “sounded like an explosion,” Moreno said.
Pascagaza, the driver, died at the scene. Mia was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital, and her mother died two days later. Hanna remains hospitalized in a pediatric intensive care unit at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Authorities and relatives said the family is from Bogotá, Colombia, and had been living in L.A. for just over a year. The girls’ older sister, Angie Pascagaza, who lives in Colombia, created a GoFundMe to raise money to transport the bodies back to Colombia for burial with their family, and to help with medical expenses for Hanna. She described her father as a hardworking man who came to the U.S. looking for a better life for his family.
Isaac was hospitalized after the crash with non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.
In addition to three counts of murder, Isaac is charged with three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, one count of driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage causing injury, and one count of hit-and-run driving resulting in injury to another person.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. His bail is set at $6.1 million.
Isaac’s case is being handled by the public defender’s office, a spokesperson told HuffPost. He is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 15.