Driver Evades Police, Crashes Car, Child is Killed by Falling Traffic

June 3, 2002

"Driver Evades Police, Crashes Car, Child is Killed by Falling Traffic Light"
Los Angeles: On Saturday, June 1, 2002, at approximately 11:32 a.m., two LAPD Central Area Officers observed a vehicle traveling northbound on Wall Street at 5th Street. The vehicle, containing a sole occupant, a male driver, nearly collided with the black and white police car as he approached 5th Street. A license plate inquiry of the suspect’s car revealed that the vehicle was reported stolen from the Hollywood area.
Attempting to pull the vehicle over, the suspect drove the reported stolen car through a maze of Los Angeles streets, attempting to evade the pursuing police officers. Traveling eastbound on 6th Street, at the intersection of Spring Street, the suspect’s vehicle ran a red light and struck a mini-van which was traveling southbound on Spring Street. The mini-van was hit broadside and pushed up onto the sidewalk where it crashed into a traffic tri-light, causing the pole with traffic signals to fall to the sidewalk. Four year-old Evelyn Vargas of Los Angeles, who was standing on the sidewalk with her mother and siblings, was instantly killed by the falling traffic control signal. The two occupants inside the mini-van, 47 year-old Antonio Aguado and 41 year-old Ana Gasca, both of Los Angeles, were seriously injured as a result of the collision. Both Aguado and Gasca are listed in stable condition and are expected to survive their injuries. The fleeing driver, 41 year-old Darren Rhinehardt of Los Angeles, was severely injured, subsequently arrested, and booked for 187 (A) PC, Murder in the First Degree and held with no bail. Rhinehardt is also expected to survive his injuries.
Anyone with information should contact Central Division Homicide Detectives at 213-485-2671. On weekends and during off-hours, call the 24-hour toll free number at Detective Information Desk at 1-877-LAWFULL, 1-877-529-3855.
Public Information Officer Jack Richter, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586, prepared this press release.