Family mourns woman killed in crash after attempted police stop

The woman killed in a North Baltimore crash with a car being followed by police was on her way to the home of her pregnant daughter, who gave birth to a girl later that day, her family said.

Angel Chiwengo, 46, of Reisterstown was among three people killed in a collision at York Road and Northern Parkway early Tuesday involving a sedan being sought by police. Andrew Baker Jr., 54, who was driving a Jeep with Chiwengo inside, was critically injured. Two people in the sedan were killed.

Chiwengo's brother-in-law, Nathan Franklin, said the newborn girl will be called "Hope," a name chosen to represent the family's desire to overcome their loss.

"It's very difficult at this point," he said. "It's not making any sense."

Baltimore police revealed little information about what led to the accident, citing the investigation. The department has said officers had attempted to stop the sedan prior to the crash. Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said Wednesday that Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts was on the crash scene that night.

"The incident and its magnitude was clear to the commissioner," Rodriguez said.

Batts "made it clear that we are to get to the truth of the matter," Rodriguez said. "He has also made it clear the department's pursuit policy must be adhered to. We will go wherever the evidence takes us."

The Baltimore Police Department's policy prohibits officers from chasing suspects in vehicles except under "exigent circumstances," including when officers believe that failing to pursue could lead to injury or death or there isn't time for another approach.

Commanding officers are supposed to approve such pursuits. Rodriguez declined to release details about communications with the officers who attempted the stop.

"Because this is an active investigation, because of the magnitude of what is there, I cannot release everything," he said.

Rodriguez confirmed that the officers were riding in a rental car, and said it was fitted with emergency equipment, including lights and sirens. He would not say whether police believed the equipment was activated.

Rodriguez said Batts believes the department is "not best served" by rental vehicles and wants to phase them out.

According to police, the incident began when plainclothes officers in the unmarked vehicle "observed suspicious activity that was criminal in nature" near Harford Road and East 25th Street and tried to stop two men in a Honda sedan. The car fled and the officers "followed," police said.

The sedan collided with Baker's Jeep at the intersection of York Road and Northern Parkway. Devell Johns, 26, and Terrell Young, 28, who were riding in the sedan, were killed.

Attempts to reach their relatives were unsuccessful.

Young, who police said had an alias of Tavon Brown, had a pending drug distribution case and in 2006 was sentenced to five years in prison for a drug conviction, court records show.

Johns was charged with assault and burglary this year, a case that was placed on the inactive docket by city prosecutors, indefinitely putting off prosecution. He received 232 days in jail in Anne Arundel County on a weapons charge in July 2012. A 2009 robbery charge was dropped in the city, records show.

Chiwengo was from the Democratic Republic of Congo and had lived in the U.S. since 2002, according to her sister-in-law, Bijou Mutombo. Mutombo was "very close" to Chiwengo and has been married to her brother for 16 years.

"She was a nice person," said Mutombo, a fellow Congolese immigrant. "She liked to smile all the time."

Chiwengo and Baker both worked at Doubletree by Hilton Baltimore North in Pikesville. Baker is an engineer and Chiwengo worked in the housekeeping department. Franklin said Baker was giving Chiwengo a ride to her daughter's home in Parkville at the time of the crash.

"She was a great person," said J.T. Thornton, director of human resources at Doubletree.

Thornton also had kind words for Baker, who was working to secure a job for his son at Doubletree.

"He's a hardworking person," Thornton said. "He is always helping others. Really affable."

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described when Chiwengo's grandchild was born.

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