Kansas Family Grieves Death Of Woman Hit By Car Fleeing Police

Photo submitted by Olivas family
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) -- Police say a 62-year-old woman died when a car fleeing from police ran a stop sign and collided with her vehicle.

The accident happened 6:45 pm Monday night in Kansas City, Kan. Police say they began pursuing the man's vehicle after they saw him commit two traffic violations while leaving an area known for its drug activity.

The man's car eventually ran a stop sign and hit a car driven by Graciela Olivas, of Kansas City, Kan., sending her car into a ditch. She died later at a hospital. KCTV-5 confirms the victim is the mother of former WIBW-TV and current KCTV reporter Sandra Olivas, along with two sons who work for Kansas City-area police and fire departments and a second daughter.

The Olivas family issued a statement reading:

“The family wishes to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. Graciela was a beloved wife, mother and grandmother. She was the center of our lives and words cannot express our immense grief and sadness.

We ask that you respect our privacy at this time.”

Police said the 28-year-old Christopher B. Stewart tried to run from the scene of the crash but was caught by the pursuing KCK police officers.

Stewart is being held on two charges in the Wyandotte County Jail including aggravated battery.

The Kansas Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.

Edmond Brancart, chief deputy for the Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office, said Tuesday morning that troopers have consulted with prosecutors but have not forwarded the case file yet to the office.

KCK police said they saw Stewart commit two traffic violations while leaving an area known for its drug activity. Troopers initially said the area was at 27th Street and Shawnee Drive, but now say the start of the chase is under investigation.

Officers tried to stop Stewart who continued to commit traffic violations while driving eastbound on Shawnee Drive in a 2000 Chevrolet Malibu.

As Stewart was fleeing, he hit Graciela Olivas' 2005 Chevy Cobalt near 34th Street and Shawnee Drive. She was traveling north on 34th Street and Stewart ran the stop sign, KHP patrol troopers said.

"He drove her into the ditch and he pretty much followed her," said Trooper Howard Dickinson. "He then bailed and ran on foot. Kansas City, KS has him in custody."

Graciela Olivas was wearing her seatbelt while Stewart was not.

Stewart was taken to the University of Kansas Hospital where he was treated for his injuries and then booked into jail. Olivas was taken to the same hospital where she would die a few hours later.

The chase lasted about 10 blocks, Dickinson said.

Stewart served about two years in prison on a drug charge, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records.

Posted by Melissa Brunner