The alleged driver of the car that killed a young mother and three children in Feltonville on Wednesday night was left partially paralyzed by the crash, police said yesterday.
Donta Cradock, 18, remained hospitalized at Albert Einstein Medical Center with injuries sustained when he totaled a Pontiac Grand Am on Third Street just south of Annsbury Street.
"The word we got is that he is paralyzed from the waist down," said Sgt. Bob Wilkins of the Homicide Division. Cradock would not be arraigned on criminal charges until his condition stabilized, Wilkins said.
Cradock's stepbrother and alleged accomplice, Ivan Rodriguez, 20, was formally charged yesterday with murder and other crimes, and was being held without bail.
Cathie Abookire, spokeswoman for District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, said Rodriguez had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday on four counts of murder, four counts of homicide by motor vehicle, conspiracy, robbery, gun charges, and other offenses.
As relatives and neighbors struggled to cope with the sudden carnage that claimed four lives, they vented outrage that two young men with troubling criminal histories had been free in their midst. Both had outstanding bench warrants for their arrests.
Cradock, who lived with his mother a few blocks away in the 300 block of East Rockland Street, had eight prior arrests dating to age 12, five involving gun violations, according to police.
Cradock's most recent arrest was April 2, 2006, a case that involved the armed robbery of a pack of beer from a pedestrian near Cradock's home in Feltonville. Cradock was adjudicated delinquent and began the first of several placements through Family Court in juvenile treatment facilities, most recently at Summit Academy, a residential facility and school north of Pittsburgh.
Cradock had been granted a home pass by Summit in April but failed to return. Summit contacted Family Court and a bench warrant was issued by Administrative Judge Kevin M. Dougherty on April 15.
Yesterday, court officials rejected claims by Vanessa Cradock, who raised both boys, in an interview Thursday with NBC10. Cradock said that when her son failed to return to Summit, she called his probation officer and asked that he be taken into custody. No one picked up her son, Cradock said.
Dougherty, in an interview, said he did not believe Cradock's story.
Dougherty said probation officers executed a warrant on May 30 at the Cradock home. "No one was home at that time," Dougherty said, adding that a man who identified himself as Cradock's stepfather told officers that Vanessa and Donta Cradock no longer lived there.
Vanessa Cradock could not be reached for comment and no one was home yesterday.
Though he acknowledged Cradock's long record with the juvenile justice system, Dougherty rejected the suggestion that Wednesday's tragedy was the result of a flaw in it.
Dougherty said that Cradock had been at Summit about seven months and that the fact that he was given a home pass indicated he met certain benchmarks and "complied with the program."
Dougherty described the home pass as the first step in a gradual process to re-acclimate Cradock to his family and community.
A spokesman for Summit Academy said yesterday he could not comment because of confidentiality rules involving juveniles.
Though Rodriguez was also wanted for arrest for failing to appear for a court appearance, the circumstances of his case are hardly unusual in a court system awash in cases involving murder and other violent crimes.
Rodriguez, who lived alone in the 4100 block of North Eighth Street in Hunting Park, was arrested May 7 on charges of illegally possessing parts to a stolen car. He posted $2,500 bail and was free pending trial. He was to have had a preliminary hearing on June 2, but never showed up and the judge issued a bench warrant.
Police allege that Cradock and Rodriguez accosted a motorcyclist at gunpoint at 7:29 p.m. Wednesday in the 5400 block of Rising Sun Avenue in Olney. Rodriguez fled on the motorcycle, and Cradock in the Pontiac.
Moments later, at C Street and Roosevelt Boulevard, a traffic officer, tipped by a motorist, began discretely following the Pontiac until traffic stopped at a red light at Third Street, police said. As the officer got out of his car, Cradock apparently spotted him, and sped south on Third.
The officer returned to his patrol car and drove south on Third looking for the Pontiac. He arrived at the accident scene a few minutes later.
Cradock, along with a .357 Magnum revolver, was in the wreckage of the car, wedged between a house and a utility pole.
Near the car were four people who had been hit.
Latoya Smith, 22, died early Thursday of her injuries, and her daughter, Remedy Smith, 1, died Wednesday night shortly after arriving at the hospital. Aaliyah Griffin, 6, a relative of Smith's, and Gina Marie Rosario, 7, a neighbor's daughter, were dead at the scene, pinned under the wrecked car.
A fund-raiser to help offset funeral expenses for the four victims of Wednesday's crash in Feltonville will be at 7 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church of Paschall, 7100 Woodland Ave., Southwest Philadelphia.
Sponsored by Radio One Philadelphia, the service will be conducted by Pastor Eric Simmons and the proceeds of a "love offering" will be donated to the families of the victims: Latoya Smith, 22; her daughter Remedy, 1; Aaliyah Griffin, 6; and Gina Marie Rosario, 7.
Funeral arrangements are pending.