ROCKFORD, MICH. - The Michigan State Police believes its trooper involved in Saturday night's deadly crash in Kentwood made the right decision in continuing in pursuit.
Calvin College student Tara Oskam, 21, was killed, and 15-year-old David Torrez sitting in the suspect vehicle sought by police died as well.
Lt. Chris McIntire reviewed all of the information and videos the weekend confirms Trooper Chris Bommarito, a 20-year police veteran, made the right choice.
'We don't know what's happening inside that car," McIntire said. "There has been cases in Kent County -- we can recall back to Wyoming where there was a pursuit and we ended up finding a dead body in the trunk of the car, so we don't know what's going on inside that car until we get it stopped."
Bommarito went through a couple steps before deciding to start a pursuit, like a seven-step checklist, police say.
"The violation they're being chased for, the speeds of the suspect vehicle as well as our vehicle, pedestrian traffic, weather conditions that are out there, the capability of our vehicles and the familiarity of the violator that we are chasing," McIntire said.
There is also a supervisor at the dispatch center listening to the calls.
"So they can make the decision ultimately if they feel that it's becoming unsafe or all of these seven factors aren't being applied, they can terminate that as well," McIntire said.
The driver of the suspect vehicle is identified 16-year-old Alex Torrez. WZZM 13 confirmed his name through someone living at his home. Police said he was going 90 mph on the 70 mph freeway and exited on 54th Street, where he stopped for about 15 seconds before deciding to take off.
"And our investigation will be though that person to see the why's we he fled from us because we don't know that answer yet, as well as getting any kind of toxicology reports back of what he may have had in his system," McIntire said.
McIntire added the driver was aware of the risks.
"The driver of the suspect vehicle was very conscious of his driving, if you will," McIntire said. "He slowed down at all of the red lights that I could see, he slowed down at one green light almost to a stop before he went through it,."
The trooper was about a quarter-mile behind the crash.
"It wasn't as though this was some wild chase -- any pursuit is dangerous, this was a horrible outcome," McIntire said.
When police got to the crash, they realized the suspect's vehicle was on fire and he was pinned inside. Bommarito and a Kentwood officer were able to pull him out.
Accident Investigators are continuing to piece together information about the crash. McIntire also noted that the fleeing driver is not the registered owner of the car he was driving.
The investigation will make its way up to Lansing for a third set of eyes; that review should be completed within the week.
The prosecutor's office will also build their case and figure out what charges should be filed against the driver.
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