Woman Killed in Crash Was Torrance Resident

by Patricia Ward Biederman, Times Staff Writer 
The L.A. Times

May 17, 2005—
A woman killed when her car was broadsided over the weekend by a motorist fleeing police was identified Monday as a Torrance resident, authorities said.

Police said Annie Ying Zi Cai, 30, died Sunday from her injuries, after Michael Lee, 45, of Lawndale crashed his van into the car in which she was a passenger.

Cai's husband, Wei Huang, 33, who was driving the car, was seriously injured.

Lee, who was in police custody in a hospital, will be arraigned today on charges of murder, attempted murder, child endangerment, assault with a deadly weapon and felony evasion, police said.

Lee apparently had argued Saturday night with the mother of his 15-year-old son, who was not identified by police. Lee then drove off with the boy in his white Chevrolet van. The teen's mother, who police also declined to identify, began to chase Lee in her silver Toyota 4Runner.

Hawthorne police said the incident began about 11:30 p.m. in Hawthorne, where the woman lives, when officers on routine patrol saw Lee's van speeding away from a local restaurant and the Toyota following it. Both vehicles failed to stop for police.

After about a mile, the woman stopped. She was frantic, police said.

"The female was screaming, 'He's got my son. He's got my son,' and that's all we knew initially," said Hawthorne Police watch commander Lt. K. Kauffman.

Directed by a police helicopter, four patrol cars pursued Lee's van as it wove, at speeds up to 80 mph, through Hawthorne, Gardena and Torrance.

In Torrance, Lee was speeding south on Cabrillo Avenue when he ran a red light at Sepulveda Boulevard and slammed into Huang's black Honda Accord.

Police said both victims were citizens of China, who were living in Torrance while working and doing post-graduate academic work.

Lee sustained minor injuries in the crash. His son was also slightly injured and is still hospitalized.

Hawthorne police said the high-speed pursuit was conducted with all possible caution.

"The pursuit was completely appropriate," Kauffman said.