SAN DIEGO – A local family is mourning the loss of 21-year-old Isabella Calhoun-Chipress, killed last week when her vehicle was struck by the driver of a stolen car attempting to evade capture.
“She was just trying to get home and they took her from us,” said Gizelle Patino, the victim’s sister.
Late Friday, San Diego County sheriff’s deputies spotted a car driving with its lights off on Grand Avenue in the Spring Valley area. After determining the car had been reported stolen upon a records check, authorities attempted to stop the vehicle, the department said in a news release.
But the car didn’t stop, speeding off into a night that ended when the driver ran a red light and struck two other vehicles — including one driven by Calhoun-Chipress —in the area of Jamacha and Sweetwater roads.
Days later, the wreckage of a violent crash is gone, but there’s plenty of pain left behind for a life cut short. At the spot where her car came to a final stop, supporters have built a memorial with candles, balloons and flowers.
“Things like that shouldn’t happen to good people,” Calhoun-Chipress’ mother, Evita Garcia, said. “She was my old soul child, that girl. She was beyond her years and I’ll never understand the senseless death.”
She was on her way home Friday after working a shift at IKEA when the crash happened just two blocks from her destination. Her family went searching when calls went unanswered.
“I asked them, ‘Is that her car?’ I knew in that moment that it probably wasn’t a good outcome… and it wasn’t. It wasn’t,” Garcia said. “We lost a beautiful soul.”
Miguel Chipress says his wife’s car was unrecognizable at first. He arrived and saw her shoes laying by her car amid the wreckage. The two were high school sweethearts and just married last June. They were set to join the U.S. Marine Corps together in May.
“I go over to the driver’s side and I see her shoes on the floor — and they had already taken her,” Chipress said. “The paramedic, one of the guys, tells me, ‘Did you know her?’ I went, ‘Did she have curly hair?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, her name was Isabella.’ I told him, ‘That was my wife.'”
Two teenagers, ages 16 and 17, from the suspected stolen vehicle are facing charges for the incident. Authorities say the 17-year-old driving the vehicle is accused of gross vehicular manslaughter and possession of a stolen vehicle among other charges.
The 16-year-old passenger was arrested on charges related to a handgun found in the car, according to sheriff’s officials.
“I don’t feel anything for them,” Garcia said. “I hope they pay. If they have the guts to have a gun and steal a vehicle, they should pay. They should be in jail and that’s where they should stay.”
For now and in the time to come, emotions are raw for her loved ones.
“I can never hear her voice again, I can never feel her, I can never get her random calls saying she’s outside,” Patino said. “She’s gone.”
One other vehicle was hit in the crash with two men and a 1-year-old child inside. All are expected to survive their injuries.
Calhoun-Chipress’ family is raising money for her funeral expenses, which as of Monday already had received a resounding show of support.