San Bernardino police chase ends with 'innocent' driver's death in car crash

A police pursuit of a stolen vehicle in San Bernardino ended in an motorist's death Tuesday and the two suspected thieves hospitalized following a crash, officials said.

Family members told KTLA that Cornelius “Corn” Holly of Victorville was killed when the stolen vehicle T-boned Holly's Honda Civic. The motorist was eastbound through an intersection where the 215 Freeway exits onto 5th Street about 4:45 a.m. when he was struck, according to Lt. Rich Lawhead.

"It's the worst scenario that plays out: Somebody innocent gets hurt," Lawhead told KTLA. "We have to strike a balance.... We want to stop the criminal ... but we don't want innocent lives lost in the process."

San Bernardino resident Damian Garcia, 18, was driving the stolen vehicle, with Ricardo Cerda, 21, also of San Bernardino, in the passenger seat, according to Lawhead. The two men were taken to the hospital after the crash and then to County Jail.

Garcia was arrested on suspicion of felony evading police, grand theft auto and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for the other driver’s death, jail records show. He’s being held on $250,000 bail. Cerda was booked on suspicion of possession of stolen property and is being held on $5,000 bail.

The pursuit started miles away at Basline Street and Sierra Way when police spotted the stolen car and tried to pull it over. The driver instead sped off and drove onto the southbound 215. When it exited at 5th street, it hit the Honda, police said.

“The impact was significant and centered on the driver’s door…killing the driver of that vehicle instantly,” police said in a statement.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Det. Devin Peck at (909) 384-5664.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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