A 14-year-old and 16-year old were killed last month when the car they were in crashed into a New Orleans beauty salon and supply store, resulting in a fire. According to The Advocate, New Orleans police say the crash occurred after the car’s driver evaded a traffic stop.
On Wednesday (April 3) the boys were reportedly identified as Byron Wilson Jr., 16, and Chimelu Collins, 14. Coroner Dwight McKenna’s office said the boys died of thermal injuries.
54-year-old Schwann Hebert who was getting her hair styled at the Salon when the crash sparked a three-alarm fire, died the following day. Six others, including two NOPD officers, were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, the New Orleans Fire Department said. At least two other people who escaped the burning building reportedly refused treatment at the scene.
According to reports, NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau opened an investigation into a possible violation of the department’s vehicle pursuit policy prior to the crash. NOPD has said the car that crashed into the salon was stolen, and officers attempted to pull it over a few blocks away from the salon. The driver didn’t stop and sped up; internal investigators are looking into whether or not officers chased it.
The NOPD’s vehicle pursuit policy permits officers to chase offenders in vehicles only if the person is suspected of having just committed a violent felony. Auto theft, possession of stolen property or unauthorized use of a vehicle would not have met the criteria for an authorized car chase.
Witnesses told reporters more than one police car appeared to be chasing the vehicle that eventually crashed into the salon.
A man who works near the site of the crash told local news, that both teens used to come to his workplace. He described them as described them as “good kids” who seemed full of “positive energy.”
“It really caught me by surprise,” said the man, who asked not to be identified, of the circumstances of their deaths.