Chandler man accused of driving 107 mph in 45 zone before crash that killed man, grandson
CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A man is accused of going over 100 miles per hour in a 45 zone before crashing into another car with a family inside, killing a grandfather and his 4-year-old grandson and injuring two others last month in Chandler. Police arrested 27-year-old Gage Kauffman on Thursday afternoon.
On Dec. 20, just after 2 p.m., police say Kauffman was driving over 100 miles per hour near Dobson Road and Shawnee Drive, south of Elliott Road when he crashed into another car with a family inside. The driver, Vaka Tooa, was ejected from the car. Vaka, the passenger, Abigail Tooa, and four-year-old grandson, Vaka Jr., were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The boy died from his injuries the next day, and Vaka died ten days after the crash, investigators said. Kauffman and his passenger were also taken to the hospital. Court documents say Vaka was not wearing a seatbelt, and his grandson wasn’t in a car seat at the time of the collision.
Kauffman reportedly told police a different driver in front of him was swerving aggressively into his lane and brake-checked him three times. He claimed that the driver was trying to get him to rear-end them, court documents say. Kauffman then said he sped up, trying to get away from the driver. However, court paperwork says Kauffman sped up from 85 miles per hour to 107 before crashing into Tooa’s car. The driver not involved in the crash sped off and hasn’t been found, investigators said. The speed limit in the area is 45 miles per hour.
According to investigators, there were several times Kauffman could have slowed down or turned around to get away from the driver who was brake-checking him. Court documents say Kauffman claimed he wasn’t drag racing or speeding with any other cars on the road. He was booked on two counts of reckless manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of endangerment.
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