CINCINNATI - Cincinnati police say a reckless driver speeding throughdowntown is to blame for a deadly crash that killed a blind womanand a taxi cab driver.
Investigators said the driver, Mark Gerth, fled after a trafficstop and drove at high speeds into downtown then crashed into ataxi cab at 8th and Sycamore streets around 1 a.m.
Cincinnati police held a news conference on Wednesday where theyreleased the names of the two people killed in the accident. Policealso shared video from the pursuing officer's cruiser and asurveillance camera which captured the deadly crash.
The passenger was named Tanya Hairston. The 39-year-old womanwas on her way to get on a train and travel back home to New YorkCity. She was thrown from the cab and later died at thehospital.
The cab driver, 39-year-old Mohamed Sidi Ould Mohamed, ofCincinnati, was killed instantly.
Police followed a Toyota Rav 4 they suspected was suspiciousaround 1 a.m. from the East Clifton and Mount Auburn areas.Officers tried to stop the SUV around McMillan Avenue, when theydiscovered the car was stolen from Newport. At that point,according to police, the SUV took off at a high rate of speedheading for downtown.
Minutes later, with police several blocks behind, the SUV, whichwas traveling at about 70 mph, clipped one car at 8th Street thenwent airborne, striking the Tri-State Yellow Cab.
Police said they took Gerth into custody following a short footchase south on Sycamore Street to St. Xavier Church.
Gerth is charged with two counts of aggravated vehicularhomicide and two counts of aggravated vehicular assault. Morecharges are expected. Officials will meet with the Hamilton CountyProsecutor's Office where they will discuss felony murder chargeswhich carry a life in prison sentence.
Investigators are investigating to determine if drugs andalcohol were involved.
Police Chief Tom Streicher said his officers followed chasepolicy during the pursuit and stopped at all signs and lights.
"Our officers were operating in accord with our policies and ourprocedures. And that this is a pursuit that ended unfortunatelywith very tragic consequences," said Streicher.
Gerth was staying at the Drop Inn Center and was driving a carthat was reported stolen back in November. He is being held at theHamilton County Justice Center and is scheduled to appear in courton Thursday.
The passenger in Gerth's vehicle will not face charges, because,according to Streicher, the two had met earlier in the evening.Police said the man even tried to get out of the vehicle during thepursuit.