Driver in fatal New Year’s Eve crash is charged

Wave Wire Services

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — A 22-year-old man has been charged with murder and other counts stemming from a crash on New Year’s Eve that killed three people, including a 5-year-old, and seriously injured the girl’s younger sister.

Isaac Jordan Kahari is charged with three counts each of murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, as well as one count each of driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage causing injury and hit-and-run driving resulting in injury to another person, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Kahari was taken to a hospital after the crash and treated for serious but non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said. No court date was immediately available, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The crash occurred around 11:20 p.m. Dec. 31, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Investigators said the speeding driver, identified as Kahari, was fleeing from an earlier hit-and-run collision, then ran a stop sign at 60th Place and Normandie Avenue, slamming into the family of four’s sedan.

LAPD Detective Ryan Moreno told reporters last week that the crash “was so violent” that it sent the family’s car careening through a street sign and a fence, coming to rest outside a nearby business. The detective said some people who heard the crash described it as sounding like an “explosion,” adding that several good Samaritans ran to the scene and “tried to do what they could.”

The father, identified by his daughter Angie on a GoFundMe page as Jose Manuel Pascagaza, 49, was pronounced dead at the scene and his 5-year-old daughter Mia died at a hospital. The mother, Luisa Bernal, 30, who was in the front passenger seat, was hospitalized with major injuries and died Jan. 2, according to police and the GoFundMe page.

The other daughter, 1-year-old Hanna, whose birthday is this week, remained hospitalized as of last week but was showing signs of improvement, police said. According to the GoFundMe page created by Angie Dayana Pascagaza, Hanna is “recovering satisfactorily from this tragic accident.”

Angie Pascagaza wrote on the page that she is hoping to raise money so the bodies of her parents and sister can be returned to Colombia “to give them a Christian burial with the whole family.” She wrote that the family had moved to California in November 2022 “looking for a better future for themselves and the girls since in Colombia the situation in the country was not very good.”

The GoFundMe page has raised more than $16,700.

Friends and neighbors created a memorial to the family with photos, flowers and candles near the intersection of 60th Place and Normandie Avenue.