2 lifelong friends ID'd as victims killed in Panorama City crash involving driver of stolen truck

Wednesday, February 1, 2023
2 men ID'd as victims fatally struck by stolen truck in Panorama City
Two lifelong friends were killed when the driver of a stolen pickup truck slammed into their car in Panorama City while fleeing from police.

PANORAMA CITY, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Two lifelong friends in their 40s were identified as the two men killed when the driver of a stolen pickup truck slammed into their car in Panorama City while the suspect was fleeing from police.

Friends said the deceased victims were Tim Schultz and Chris Teagardin, who had known each other for well over 30 years.

"They were just fantastic," said Stacy Spears, adding that Schultz has a daughter and Teagardin has a son. Spears described the victims' deaths as "devastating" and "senseless, senseless, senseless."

According to authorities, on Tuesday evening officers attempted to pull over the driver of a black pickup truck that was reportedly stolen. The suspect suddenly took off, kicking off the chase.

The pursuit was making its way though the San Fernando Valley shortly before 8 p.m. when the driver, accompanied by several passengers, crashed into a silver sedan at the intersection of Lanark Street and Woodman Avenue.

"I heard a big bang and I ran over to see if I can help the people," a witness told ABC7. "It looks like it was already too late, and I saw the gentleman get out of the Tacoma and run that way."

The innocent driver of the sedan and a passenger were both pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said. They were later identified by coroner's officials as two men, ages 47 and 49. Their names were initially withheld pending the notification of their families.

Two innocent people were killed Tuesday evening when a pursuit involving a stolen vehicle ended in a violent crash in Panorama City.

The Los Angeles Police Department said that due to the suspect's dangerous driving, officers were in the process of going into tracking mode as a helicopter arrived on the scene of the chase. That's when the crash occurred.

"This is a very tragic incident," LAPD Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton told reporters. "We try to conduct these instances where we go in pursuit, as safely as possible, with all the tools that we have. That's why we look at going in tracking mode as soon as we can."

The suspect driver ran from the crash site but was chased down by police officers in a nearby parking lot, authorities said, adding that officers used a Taser to take him down.

Police said a second suspect also tried to get away but was taken into custody.

A third person, a woman, was also pulled from the pickup truck and was transported to a hospital in an unknown condition, investigators said.

The driver of the pickup, later identified as Oscar Delacruz, had been wanted on a felony warrant, police said. He was being held without bail Wednesday.

"He's being charged with murder in regards to this matter, and we'll work with the district attorney's office on the further details of this case," LAPD Chief Michel Moore said. "And to the public that looks into the circumstances of why the department was pursuing that individual, was it consistent with out policies and expectations, we will have more information on that as the information becomes known."

Authorities told Eyewitness News that officers believed one of the male suspects was possibly suffering from an overdose after ingesting a large amount of unknown narcotics.

AIR7 HD was above the scene as the investigation unfolded. The two vehicles involved were left mangled near a sidewalk with large amounts of debris scattered around.