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Humble police chase ends with fatal wreck in Houston

A car crash that killed a woman and sent three children to the
hospital Thursday began as a shoplifting report at a mall in Humble.


The car they were in was struck by a sedan fleeing police, who were
pursuing three people who had reportedly stolen about $2,600 worth of
merchandise from a store at Deerbrook Mall.


The woman, 43, died on impact after her Chevrolet Malibu flipped over
and landed along Quitman near the southbound Eastex Freeway feeder.


Two boys, 5 and 7, were in the back seat while another boy, 15, was
in the front passenger seat. They were taken to Ben Taub General
Hospital, where police later described their condition as serious.


About 3:30 p.m., Humble police officers were sent to investigate the
shoplifting reports at the mall, along U.S. 59 near FM 1960.


They saw women running from the store who got into a Dodge sedan and fled, authorities said.


The officers followed them onto southbound U.S. 59.


The chase came to an end seconds after the driver took the Quitman
exit from the freeway and collided with the other car in the
intersection - the Malibu.


Many tried to help


Thomas Clark was walking in the area when he heard the loud crash of the impact.


"I just said, 'Oh Lord,' " Clark recalled, still clearly shaken by the ordeal.


He ran over and tried to help the injured. More bystanders arrived and helped pull the woman from the car.


"I knew she was already gone," Clark said.


He said the children appeared unnaturally calm, as if they were shell-shocked.


"They weren't crying. But you could tell that they were really hurt," Clark said.


HPD officials late Thursday said they couldn't confirm the relationship between the woman and the children.


"She's dead because of the actions of the suspect who was fleeing
police, blew a red light and struck her vehicle," said Kese Smith, a
spokesman with the Houston Police Department. That agency will
investigate the crash because it occurred in Houston city limits.


The Dodge was heavily damaged. The driver and two passengers got out.
At least one of them tried to run, Smith said, but was quickly


Clark said one of the women sat down on the ground.


"She was acting like she was a victim or something," he recalled. "After that, they put handcuffs on her."


The three women also were taken to Ben Taub with minor injuries, police said.


Harris County prosecutors will file a homicide charge against the
driver and felony theft charges against the other women for the earlier
shoplifting incident, Humble police said.


Police: Within policy


Although the department will conduct an internal review into the
chase, Humble police said Thursday's incident didn't appear to violate
pursuit policies.


Humble Police Sgt. Ken Theis said about four of their patrol cars were trailing behind the Dodge along the Eastex Freeway.


He estimated they were traveling about 70-75 mph.


"There was other traffic, but it didn't seem to be extremely heavy," Theis said.


Late Thursday, police had not released the identity of the dead woman or the three women arrested.


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