Family mourns father of 4 who was killed when chase suspect crashed into his vehicle in Whittier

WHITTIER, Calif. (KABC) -- Family members comforted each other Monday night as they gathered to light candles at a spot where their loved one, Isaias Cruz, died following a crash at the end of a chase.

"I just wanted to come to see what was his last day," Cruz's brother Zeferino Cruz Rodriguez said.

The 61-year-old father of four was killed after his vehicle was hit by another vehicle being driven by a 34-year-old chase suspect. Authorities identified the suspect as Kevin Vargas, who was fleeing officers following a suspected road-rage incident.

Cellphone video shows Vargas' car fully engulfed in flames at the end of the chase in Whittier. He escaped and was arrested.

Cruz was pronounced dead after he was taken to a hospital.

"Isaias was an outgoing person who believed in God and always giving words of encouragement. He was the life of the party," sister-in-law Connie Holguin said.

Cruz was one of 11 children. His family said they believe he was given a second chance at life after almost dying a year ago because of gallstones and abdominal complications.

"He went from 200 and something to 95 pounds. He was real skinny and he survived. But now to lose him like this - it's sad," Rodriguez said.

He said he wishes police would have backed off the chase in the residential area.

"They should have just let the guy slow down," Rodriguez said.

As for what they think about the suspect - they're drawing on what Cruz would have done.

"He would say we need to pray for that person because God gives second chances. God gave him a second chance," Holguin said.

Authorities would not provide details on their pursuit policy regarding residential areas.

As for Vargas, the Santa Fe Springs resident was taken to a hospital in stable condition and faces numerous felony charges.
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