L.A. motorist killed in crash with fleeing driver of stolen car

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Holocaust survivor was killed Friday when a stolen Chevrolet Suburban speeding at up to 100 mph slammed into her compact car.

Charlotte Lenga, 77, died when her car was broadsided by the Suburban at an Encino intersection, police said.

The driver of the big sport utility vehicle - whom police identified as Frank McIntyre, 20 - was captured and taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. He was expected to be booked for investigation of murder, home invasion robbery, grand theft auto and other crimes, Sgt. John Pasquariello said.

The crash delivered a violent death to a Czech native who saw much violence more than a half-century ago in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen.

Lenga was sent to Auschwitz in May 1944, according to a lawsuit she and six other Holocaust survivors filed last year against Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and several German companies. Gov. Gray Davis and the Simon Wiesenthal Center also are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which accuses the companies of using slave labor during the Holocaust.

The lawsuit said Lenga was brutally beaten by guards, then forced to work 12-hour-shifts. In March 1945 she was sent on a ''death march'' to Bergen Belsen, where she was liberated with the war's end that May.

Friday's events leading to Lenga's death began shortly before 12:30 p.m. in Northridge, when a police officer tried to pull over a van in connection with a burglary, Officer Don Cox said.

''The guy was going so fast'' that the officer lost sight of him, Pasquariello said.

Another officer spotted the van a short time later but also lost it. A police helicopter finally managed to track the vehicle as it sped in a convoluted route through the San Fernando Valley, Pasquariello said.

When the van became disabled, the driver abandoned it while it was still moving. The van smacked into an apartment or condominium complex, and sketchy early reports indicated two people may have been slightly injured, the sergeant said.

The driver ran to a condominium, tied up a woman inside, stole the keys to her Suburban and demanded she tell him where the vehicle was, police said. The woman was not hurt.

The fugitive then drove off, reaching speeds of 80 mph to 100 mph. Pasquariello said no police cars were pursuing at the time of the crash, only a helicopter.

''No one ever got close enough to this guy to consider following him. He was so far ahead,'' Pasquariello said.

After the crash, the driver got out and ran off but was caught several minutes later.


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