California Siblings Killed in Crash by Driver Who Was Allegedly Fleeing Police: 'Broke Our Hearts'
A brother and sister who were on their way home from work in northern California were killed when an 18-year-old man allegedly fleeing police for a traffic violation slammed into them, say authorities.
Philip Nievas, 21, and his sister, Precious Nievas, 25, were turning left onto Mitty Way in West San Jose just before 10 p.m. on April 26 when they were broadsided by a 2017 Honda Accord allegedly driven by a man being chased by police, according to an advisory from the San Jose Police Department.
The driver, identified as Robert Joseph Garcia, 18, of Morgan Hill, California, had allegedly changed lanes several times and made a U-turn without signaling on the Lawrenceville Expressway, according to the criminal complaint and a statement of facts filed by the San Jose Police Department.
When a Santa Clara Sheriff's Office Deputy tried to initiate a traffic stop, Garcia "immediately accelerated" away from him, the statement of facts says.
Garcia allegedly blew through a red light and slammed into the Toyota Camry Philip was driving, which was pushed about 250 feet before crashing into a sound wall and landing on its side, according to the criminal complaint and a statement of facts.
Philip Nievas and his sister were pronounced dead at the scene.
Garcia and his passenger, who is 17 and was not identified by police, were transported to a local hospital.
Garcia broke his back and his clavicle in the crash, the statement of facts says. The passenger came away from the accident with a broken right ankle and a broken rib.
The two were initially arrested on charges of evading an officer, gross vehicular manslaughter and various firearms and narcotics offenses, say police in the advisory.
On Thursday, Garcia was charged with two counts of murder for allegedly using a dangerous weapon — his car — as a deadly and dangerous weapon, according to the complaint.
He is also charged with eluding a pursuing peace officer and causing the death of another person; eluding a pursuing peace officer and causing serious bodily injury to another person; carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle - defendant not in lawful possession of the firearm; and possession for the sale of cannabis, according to the complaint.
The driver and his passenger have not yet entered pleas. It is unclear whether either has retained an attorney to comment on the allegations.
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As police continue to investigate, family and friends are grieving the loss of the sister and brother who cared for their younger siblings after their mother died.
In a GoFundMe set up to help their family defray funeral expenses, Michelle Sy wrote that the brother and sister were heading home after work when their car was struck.
"It broke our hearts to learn that neither of them survived the accident," she wrote. "They were both extremely young with many dreams. Many describe Precious and Philip to be very kind and down to earth.
"Precious was very caring for her little siblings and was like a mother figure to them after they lost their mom at a young age.
"Precious has a sweet smile that many people will not forget."
Her brother, she wrote, "was a quiet person who loved playing video games, but when people get to know him they see that he is a funny and sarcastic person with a very soft heart."