Police helicopter footage of a crash in Northwest Baltimore. Credit: Baltimore Police Department via source
Rowena Simmons has not been able to visit her son at the hospital where he’s been in a coma for three weeks, due to the facility’s coronavirus restrictions. So she purchased a tape recorder and sent messages from the family and the sound of his beloved Yorkshire terrier, Cash.
Her son, 28-year-old Darius Gore, was driving through his Northwest Baltimore neighborhood on March 21 when a woman fleeing police in a stolen car plowed into his vehicle as he passed through an intersection.
Simmons is upset with the driver, but she also wants answers from the Baltimore Police, who she believes were giving chase.
Aerial video obtained by The Sun appears to show two patrol cars in tow, arriving within moments after the crash.
“This was a car accident that could’ve been prevented if the police had not been chasing a stolen vehicle through the city limits,” Simmons said. “All they have to do is follow from above with that helicopter; we’re not talking about professional car thieves.”
Police formally charged the woman in the stolen vehicle on March 30. Delisa Ann Dello-Stritto, 28, faces four counts of second-degree assault, and one count each of reckless endangerment, unauthorized removal of property, and theft between $1,000 and $25,000, court records show. She also has numerous pending traffic charges and is being held without bail.
Police wrote in charging documents that the incident began when Officer Claude Torres was notified that a 2014 Ford Fusion reported stolen in Pennsylvania was located via GPS at a gas station on West Patapsco Avenue.
Baltimore Police policies on chasing fleeing suspects prohibit a pursuit for a stolen vehicle but say that they may give chase if there “exists probable cause to believe the fleeing suspect committed a felony which resulted, or could have resulted, in death or serious bodily injury.”
Officers are supposed to weigh the danger to the community, the likelihood of being able to apprehend the person at a later time, and the availability of air support.
The Foxtrot helicopter unit was overhead when the officers arrived and attempted to box the vehicle in, Torres wrote.
Dello-Stritto put the vehicle in reverse, and pulled out of the gas station, striking a police vehicle on the way out, records show. Her path through the city is charted in charging documents: westbound on Patapsco, east on Washington Boulevard, north on Desoto Road, east on Wilkens Avenue, to Cole Street and north on North Stricker Street. She blew through stop signs on McHenry Street, Pratt Street, Lombard Street, and then turned west on West Baltimore Street, police said.
“Foxtrot continued following the vehicle through other streets in the city until the stolen vehicle struck two vehicles in the intersection of Liberty Heights Avenue and Callaway Avenue,” Torres wrote.
Torres does not say whether units on the ground were following.
A police spokeswoman said last month that police would decide whether an internal investigation was warranted following the conclusion of the crash investigation, and did not respond to requests for comment this week.
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Police said Dello-Stritto was injured and refused to give her name but was identified through databases. Police list addresses for her in both East Baltimore and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and said she has used several aliases in the past.
The Sun was unable to locate relatives through public records databases, and she does not have an attorney listed.
Simmons said her son, Gore, is “very family-oriented” and especially devoted to his dog, who she referred to as his “dog-child.” She said the dog was in the car and injured when the crash occurred.
Another passenger, identified in police records as a 54-year-old man who Simmons said her son was driving to his job at Sinai Hospital, suffered broken bones and is in a rehabilitation facility.
Simmons said she is trying to be optimistic about Gore’s prognosis. Doctors told her he has swelling on his brain but no spinal damage.