Police ID 1 suspect, victim of 'dine and dash' fatal crash

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Two people are dead and a third is in critical condition after a "dine and dash" incident led to a high-speed police chase that ended in a head-on crash. By Catherine Holland Two people are dead and a third is in critical condition after a "dine and dash" incident led to a high-speed police chase that ended in a head-on crash. By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Three people are dead after a "dine and dash" incident led to a high-speed police chase that ended in a head-on crash late last week.

It happened shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday at 67th Avenue and Van Buren Street.

According to police, a couple left a restaurant at 75th Avenue and McDowell Road without paying and then got into an altercation with employees who went after them.

The man and woman fled in a black Camaro. Crump on Monday identified the woman as Valerie Cervantez, 26. The man still has not been identified.

Just minutes after the altercation outside the restaurant, somebody called 911 to report a domestic violence situation happening in a speeding black Camaro.

With the help of the Phoenix Police Department's helicopter, units on the ground caught up with the Camaro.

"Officers attempted to stop the vehicle with their emergency lights and siren and the driver fled from them at a high rate of speed," Sgt. Trent Crump of the Phoenix Police Department said.

Crump said the patrol cars backed off and let the helicopter follow the Camaro.

Cervantez, who was behind the wheel of the Camaro, lost control of the car, which then crossed the center line and slammed head-on into a Lincoln Town Car.

Video from the scene showed debris from the cars scattered all over the road.

The male suspect, who was in the passenger seat of the Camaro, and Sylvester Romero, the 31-year-old driver of the Lincoln, were both killed. Romero was on his way home from work when the fleeing Camaro hit him.

Cervantez survived the crash, but died of her injuries Sunday afternoon.

Investigators initially believed the male suspect was driving the Camaro, but later determined that he was was the passenger and Cervantez was in the driver's seat.

The intersection of 67th Avenue and Van Buren Street was closed all night. It finally reopened after 8 a.m. Friday, almost 24 hours after the chase and subsequent crash.

"When you think about a series of events that did not need to occur last night," said Crump. "We have two individuals who make some choices that are absolutely in disregard to human life. They leave a restaurant upset, mad, fighting, skip out on a bill from what we understand and took off at a high rate of speed."