PITTSBURGH (AP) — A man who led police on a car chase that ended with a fiery crash that killed three people in another car likely was driving more than 100 mph and had a suspended license, police said in a criminal complaint filed Friday.
Demetrius Coleman was pulled over by East McKeesport police Thursday afternoon for making an illegal turn, then sped away when officers learned he was wanted for violating his probation for a felony charge of possessing with intent to deliver drugs, the complaint said.
David Bianco, his fiancee, Kaylie Meininger, and their 2-year-old daughter, Annika, were killed when Coleman hit their car and it burst into flames at an intersection, friends and relatives said. They had been driving to an uncle's house for dinner.
"They were talking about the future and getting married," Meininger's cousin Brittany Puccio told KDKA-TV.
James Blystone, a vice president for Glacier Restaurant Group, which owns Max & Ermas restaurant, where Bianco and Meininger worked in Monroeville, called them "a really hardworking couple trying to provide a great life for their daughter," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Coleman is charged with criminal homicide, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault with a vehicle among other charges in the Thanksgiving crash on a busy highway about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. He remained hospitalized in police custody and didn't have an attorney listed in court records.
Coleman, of Pittsburgh, sped away from the convenience store parking lot where he was pulled over once officers turned up the drug warrant while checking his identification, the complaint said. The crash scene, in North Versailles, was about 2 miles from the initial traffic stop.
Online court records show Coleman, 22, was on probation for a 2012 drug possession case when he was charged with drug possession with intent to deliver in March. He was sentenced to jail but was then paroled and had his probation on the former case extended.
Accident reconstruction experts and other investigators were piecing together the crash, in which a second vehicle also was struck. Three women in that SUV were injured but survived. A female passenger in Coleman's vehicle also was injured, police said.
Witnesses and police said the chase reached speeds at least double the 40 mph speed limit on U.S. Route 30 before the crash at state Route 48.
North Versailles Officer Norman Locke, one of the officers chasing Coleman, "estimated the vehicle as exceeding 100 mph and he was not gaining on the vehicle at all," the criminal complaint said.
As Locke crested a hill, he could see the roof of Coleman's vehicle weaving in and out of traffic and approaching the intersection, where the light was red, the complaint said. That's when Locke saw a "large fireball and the telephone pole was immediately sheared in half and flipped over," the complaint said.
County homicide Detective Scott Scherer blamed Coleman for speeding away from the parking lot "with disregard to everything he does."