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Single mother of three ‘fighting for her life’ after crash with suspects fleeing LAPD

An intubated woman comatose on a hospital bed
Yolanda Reyna is in a medically induced coma after a traffic collision with two suspects who were fleeing LAPD officers.
(Julisa Mercado Reyna)
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A single mother of three who was on her way to a concert remains in critical condition after a police chase ended in a crash in South Los Angeles.

Yolanda Reyna was driving to a Los Temerarios show Thursday night when her car was struck by two suspects fleeing police, her daughter Julisa Mercado Reyna said.

The crash happened just hours after a different Los Angeles police pursuit ended in a fatal crash that killed a 19-year-old Cal State Northridge student. That was the second fatal collision during an LAPD pursuit in recent weeks.

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“Unfortunately this was negligence of both the LAPD and the two suspects,” 25-year-old Mercado Reyna said in an interview from the hospital where her mother is in a medically induced coma. “If there’s any way we can get the word out there to stop these kinds of things, because it’s innocent lives.”

Three people were transported to a hospital Thursday evening after a Los Angeles police pursuit ended in South Los Angeles.

Feb. 17, 2023

The chase began around 7:40 p.m., when 77th Division patrol officers near Florence Avenue and Main Street found a stolen black GMC pickup truck, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Officers tried to stop the truck “when the suspect fled at a high rate of speed,” police said. Their pursuit lasted a little more than a minute and ended when the motorist ran a red light at Gage Avenue and San Pedro Street, colliding with a sedan, police said.

Two suspects were taken into custody, including the truck’s driver, a man in his 40s.

Reyna had been on the way to pick up a friend for the concert in Inglewood, her daughter said. The friend called Mercado Reyna shortly after 8 p.m. to ask where her mother was.

When Reyna’s children checked her phone location, they saw she was at Gage and San Pedro and hadn’t moved. Mercado Reyna rushed to the scene, where police told her that her mother had been taken to the hospital.

Mercado Reyna said her mother has a brain bleed and broken bones.

“She’s fighting really hard,” Mercado Reyna said. “It breaks my heart to see her like this, but I keep faith and I believe in God and I know that my mom is going to overcome this. She’s overcame everything in her life, and I have her strength so I believe she’s going to pull through.”

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Yolanda Reyna and her three kids at a table with a birthday cake
Yolanda Reyna celebrates her son Cesar’s 22nd birthday Wednesday with son Anthony Reyna, 12, and daughter Julisa Mercado Reyna.
(Reyna family)

Reyna is a “dedicated soccer mom” to her 12-year-old son, Mercado Reyna said. Her son was supposed to have soccer practice that day, but it was canceled and Reyna went to the concert last minute, her daughter said.

Just the day before, the family had celebrated another son’s 22nd birthday

Reyna’s family has started a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses. On it, they said Reyna is “fighting for her life.”

“She’s a single mother, and she’s always worked hard to fight for us three,” Mercado Reyna said. “I’m the oldest. Now the responsibility is on me to be strong for my younger brothers.”

Thursday’s crash followed the death of the Cal State Northridge student whose car was struck by robbery suspects who were being pursued by police, authorities said.

That came a little more than two weeks after two bystanders were killed when a black Toyota Tacoma pickup that had been reported stolen crashed into a parked Honda Civic in Panorama City.

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Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said officials would examine whether the Jan. 31 high-speed pursuit followed departmental policy.

A previous Times data analysis found that 1 in 10 car chases initiated by the LAPD from 2006 to 2014 resulted in injuries to civilians. Afterward, L.A. County’s civil grand jury issued a report finding that police chases were “causing unnecessary bystander injuries and deaths” and that officers needed better training to reduce the risk of crashes during high-speed pursuits.

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