Infant orphaned after mom, dad, sister killed in suspected DUI crash on New Year's Eve

A mother has died just days after a dad and daughter were killed in a crash in South Los Angeles on New Year's Eve, police announced Tuesday. Her other daughter, just days away from her second birthday, is recovering in the hospital.

It happened less than an hour before midnight on Dec. 31, according to LAPD Detective Ryan Moreno, and it all started with an unrelated crash. After two cars collided at Normandie Avenue and W. Gage Ave, one of the drivers in a white Chevrolet Tahoe drove off. Another driver chased after him. Moreno said the Tahoe driver, identified as Issac Jordan Kahari, was driving recklessly through the neighborhood, and when he got to the intersection of Normandie and 60th Place, he plowed through the stop sign, T-boning a smaller sedan.

Inside the sedan was a family of four. Moreno said the crash was so forceful, their sedan was thrown to the other side of the road, through a street sign and a fence.

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That's when Moreno said good Samaritans who were nearby and witnessed the crash jumped in to help the family. The father, identified as Jose Pascagaza, was pronounced dead at the scene. One of the girls, 5-year-old Mia Pascagaza, was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. The mother, Luisa Bernal and the younger sister, 1-year-old Hanna Pascagaza, were transported to the hospital. Bernal died Tuesday from her injuries. 

Hanna, the sole survivor of the crash, was in critical condition, but according to Moreno, "I believe over the night a miracle happened. Because the last two days she wasn't expected to survive her injuries and a lot of the blunt force trauma she sustained… She's showing recovery, and it's actually looking, [with the] last conversation we had with the hospital, that she might actually make it and recover from this."

Hanna will turn two on January 11. It is unclear who will take care of the girl. 

The family, Moreno said, is from Bogotá, Colombia, and has lived in the area for just a year, making it difficult for the LAPD to identify and notify family and loved ones who could potentially take care of the young girl.

Kahari is still in the hospital as of Tuesday. Moreno said he had a clean record prior to Sunday's crash, but it's believed alcohol played a part in the crash. 

"These no reason [for it]," Moreno said. "Most of these accidents happen because of speed. That first collision that happened was pretty minor from my understanding. He could have just stopped and stayed there and exchanged information, do whatever. There's no need to drive like he was throughout the neighborhood and the city."

The LAPD has been in contact with the LA County District Attorney's Office for potential charges, and Moreno said they're hoping the driver will be charged with murder.

"You can't drive two times the speed limit through city streets, running red lights and stop signs just because you feel like it, or you're trying to get away from a crime you committed," Moreno said.