5-year-old girl killed after high-speed police chase ends in fiery crash

Posted at 11:27 PM, Apr 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-04 19:23:38-04

SUSSEX COUNTY, Va. -- Barry Kennedy watched a large plume of smoke rise out of the wood line near the Sussex County country road that borders his land on Wednesday morning.

"My wife called out to me that there was something on fire," Kennedy recalled. "I looked out across the field over there and I could see black smoke coming up."

The fiery crash site was the end to a six-minute chase that crossed a county line and ended with the death of a little girl, according to Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller.

Family members identified the girl as 5-year-old Christina Parham. She was transported to VCU Medical Center where she succumbed to her injuries, officials said.

A family member described her as a "very intelligent, funny, joyful little girl. She loved church, school and her siblings."

Additionally, an 8-year-old boy was flown by Virginia State Police Med-Flight to VCU Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.

Geller said the pursuit started at 8:09 a.m. when a trooper spotted 29-year-old Toriando B. Smith of Petersburg in a Chevrolet Cruze speeding on Route 618 in Dinwiddie County.

"The trooper initiated his emergency lights and siren and initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle. The Chevrolet Cruze pulled over and stopped on the side of the road. But as the trooper approached it on foot, the Cruze pulled away and sped off," Geller said.

The trooper gave chase and the pursuit continued along Route 40 into Sussex County.

"The trooper lost sight of the Cruze, which was traveling in excess of 100 mph. As the trooper searched the area for the suspect vehicle, at approximately 8:15 a.m. he came upon a traffic crash on Route 681/Concord Sappony Road," Geller said.

That is where officials said the suspect hit a Chevrolet Impala head-on.

"I got down there and one car was sitting at the edge of the wood just totally engulfed in flames. Another car was sitting right beside it and looked like the two had hit in a head on collision," Kennedy described.

He added, "It was totally engulfed in flames with black smoke coming from it. It was burning pretty good."

Kennedy said he watched as two officers performed CPR on one of the victims.

The driver of the Impala, 30-year-old Latonya S. Chandler from Stony Creek, was taken to Southside Regional Medical Center with serious, but non-life threatening, injuries.

Officials said the impact of the crash caused the suspect's car to catch fire.

The trooper pulled Smith from his burning vehicle, officials said. He was the only one inside the Chevrolet Cruz.

Smith suffered serious, but non-life threatening, injuries and is being treated at VCU Medical Center in Richmond.

A man who said he was Smith's brother arrived to the crash site to look at the damage.

He said Smith had called him during the police pursuit to tell him he loved him.

Online court records showed Smith has numerous failure to appear charges as well as marijuana possession, speeding, and carry concealed weapon convictions.

VSP investigators had also returned to the crash site to take measurements and collect evidence.

Officials said charges are pending against the driver.

Smith was charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, one felony count of eluding police and for driving on a revoked license., but officials said additional charges are pending.

The crash remains under investigation.