Alliyah Griffin

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Tragedy in Philadelphia:
3 Children & a Mom Killed

PHILADELPHIA - June 11, 2009 (WPVI) -- Three children and a mother are dead after a car jumped a curb and plowed into a crowd of people. Authorities say the driver of the car was fleeing police.

3 children, 1 woman hit, killed by car being chased by police in Philadelphia

Thursday, June 11, 2009 | 12:02 PM
ABC Action News, Channel 6, Web Produced by T.J. Alexander

PHILADELPHIA - June 11, 2009 (WPVI) -- Three children and a mother are dead after a car jumped a curb and plowed into a crowd of people. Authorities say the driver of the car was fleeing police.

22-year-old Latoya Smith, the mother of the youngest of the child victims and an aunt to another, died Thursday at Einstein Hospital. Smith was mortally wounded in the crash that occurred Wednesday night.

Smith and others were outside their Feltonville homes on 3rd Street enjoying the weather when the out of control car rammed them.

At a makeshift memorial a grandmother expressed her rage at the sudden death of a 7-year-old, Gina Marie Rosario.

She held up a picture of the little girl giving the American Sign Language sign for "I really love you." The grandmother said, "This is what she wore for the last time."

Gina Marie was one of three children killed last night.

The chain of events that led to the carnage began blocks away with the hijacking of a motorcycle at Fisher and Rising Sun Avenue shortly before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The hijacker exited a silver Pontiac Grand Am, and soon police were in pursuit of the Pontiac headed south along the Roosevelt Boulevard.

The car cut left, down 3rd Street and plowed into residents at Annsbury Street.

Philadelphia Police Lt. Frank Vanore told reporters, "When that vehicle reached the 4500 block of 3rd Street, at a very high rate of speed, [it] jumped the pavement and struck four people."

All four victims were killed - three victims were under the age of 10: 7-year-old Gina Marie Rosario, Smith's daughter 11-month-old Remedy Smith and her niece 6-year-old Alliyah Griffin.

The driver of the car, identified as 18-year-old Dante Craddock, remains hospitalized with non life-threatening injuries. Police say he was in possession of a gun.

Police have also arrested the alleged motorcycle hijacker, 20-year-old Ivan Rodriguez, at the suspect's house along the 4100 block of N. 8th Street. They say they also recovered four guns at that house.

Both suspects have been charged with the robbery of the motorcycle. More charges are pending approval from the District Attorney's Office.

The Action Cam visited the scene of the crash early Thursday morning. A memorial grows near Third and Annsbury streets where that driver hopped the curb - leaving a scarred tree and three children dead.

Family and friends are trying to come to grips with the tragedy.

In an instant Ted Canada's life changed forever. Canada's 22-year-old daughter, Latoya Smith, and his baby granddaughter, Remedy, were killed.

Wednesday night outside Einstein Hospital Canada spoke with Action News about the death of his granddaughter.

"That's all we can do is thank God. Thank God he loaned her to us for the time that he did," said Canada. "I'm gonna remember her as an angel because she was an angel... and the angel has gone home. And one good thing that I can say is she had no reason not to make it in heaven because she had no time to sin."

Mayor Michal Nutter is asking the Philadelphia community to pray for the victims and their families. The mayor and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey both rushed to the scene last night.

They were saddened and outraged. The mayor said, "It is incomprehensible what some of these people are doing out on the streets of this city. They engage in this kind of action. It's senseless."
Commissioner Ramsey followed the mayor's statement by saying, "It's just a tragedy. Again, as the mayor said, it just shows how violent some people are in the city."

Police towed away the striking vehicle Wednesday night.

Even veteran police officers called the crash scene the most horrific they have ever witnessed.
Stay with Action News and for new developments on this story throughout the day.

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