Three children were injured Saturday after a man and woman eluding police drove their car into a Rancho Cordova apartment, sparking a fire that damaged several units in the complex, according police and fire officials.
Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District spokesman Capt. Chris Vestal said the victims – ages 2, 4 and 7 – were inside the apartment when the vehicle crashed through, but he said they only suffered minor injuries. Officials on scene said the children and their mother were able to escape the apartment with the help of neighbors before the fire spread.
The two people inside the vehicle were also injured, said Sgt. Shaun Hampton, spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, which contracts its deputies for the city force. After the vehicle crashed into the apartment, both suspects fled on foot.
In total, five people were transported to the hospital, Hampton said. Another officer on scene said the children’s pet rabbit died.
The driver – Benjamin Mena, 21, of Roseville – was found on the 2100 block of Zinfandel and arrested on suspicion of evading a police officer and possession of methamphetamine, and is being held without bail. The passenger was released after undergoing treatment, Hampton said.
Around 10:20 a.m. Saturday, Hampton said crime-suppression officers in an unmarked car were waiting behind a black Dodge Challenger stopped at a red light at White Rock Road and Zinfandel Drive when the driver of the Challenger stepped on the gas, running the light. Officers followed northbound on Zinfandel but quickly lost sight of the car at Highway 50 and began to canvass along Folsom Boulevard.
Minutes later, residents waved down officers after the vehicle crashed into the Vintage Fair Apartments on the 11100 block of Hirschfeld Way, entering one unit on the first floor of the complex, sparking a fire.
The fire spread to at least 12 units before being put out, Vestal said. Footage from the scene posted by Metro Fire showed extensive damage to the apartment that the car rammed through, as well as the unit directly above.
The investigation is ongoing, Hampton said.