Fundraiser starts for victim of police chase

HERCULES — Friends have started an online fundraiser for the family of a 31-year-old woman who died last week when a person driving a stolen SUV and chased by police crashed into her vehicle.

The crash also injured her two 6-year-old twin sons, including one who has life-threatening injuries, authorities said.

The fundraiser identified the woman as Ryniqueka Dowell. Authorities on Monday did not identify her publicly.

By 10:30 a.m. on Monday, the fundraiser had raised $6,080 of the $50,000 it was seeking for expenses to help with Dowell’s funeral and the children’s medical costs.

“More importantly, please keep Ryniqueka’s family in prayer during this time of adversity,” the fundraiser entry said.

Police identified the driver who trying to escape police as 20-year-old Ralph E. White III, of Vallejo. Hercules Police Chief Joseph Vasquez said White was was arrested on suspicion of one count of second-degree murder; three counts of evading a police officer and causing death or great bodily injury; and one count of possession of a stolen vehicle.

The officer remained on paid administrative leave Monday, per department policy. The department’s vehicle pursuit policy says a pursuit can be initiated when an officer “reasonably believes that a suspect, who has been given appropriate signal to stop by a law enforcement officer, is attempting to evade arrest or detention by fleeing in a vehicle.”

Vasquez last week said the chase started after the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office contacted them about 7:27 p.m. on March 23 about a stolen 2021 Mazda SUV possible heading toward Hercules on eastbound Interstate 80. Pole-mounted license plate readers in El Sobrante and Hercules also alerted police to the Mazda SUV, he said.

The Mazda exited I-80 at the Willow Avenue exit, which eventually turns into Parker Avenue in unincorporated Rodeo, Vasquez said. An officer pulled up close to the Mazda SUV, which then accelerated, he said.

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