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Child dies a week after police chase-turned crash involving stolen vehicle in St. Louis County

The 2-year-old and his mother were in a car the suspect hit while fleeing police. The mother is still in the hospital.
Credit: Larry Johnson/KSDK

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — A 2-year-old has died from his injuries after he and his mother were involved in a wreck last week. They were driving in the area when a suspect fleeing police crashed into their vehicle. The 29-year-old suspect already facing charges in connection to the crash is now charged with second-degree murder as well.

St. Louis County police said a Dodge Challenger being driven by Leon Russell was traveling southbound on West Florissant Avenue when it crashed into a black Hyundai sedan at about 8:52 a.m. on April 22 as it was waiting to make a left turn onto Hudson Drive.

The Hyundai, which was occupied by the mother and her son, hit a utility pole and caught fire. Both people were thrown from the car, St. Louis County Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Tracy Panus said.

Panus said both mother and child were taken to a St. Louis area hospital with serious, life-threatening injuries. 

An update from police on Friday said 2-year-old Jace Richardson, of University City, died from his injuries on Thursday.

Police said his mother is still in the hospital with critical injuries.

After hitting the Hyundai, Russell lost control of the Dodge, which struck a white Oldsmobile sedan traveling northbound on West Florissant Avenue. The driver of that car suffered minor injuries, Panus said.

Credit: St. Louis County Jail

Several minutes before the crash, St. Louis County police officers in a marked patrol vehicle attempted to pull over the Dodge on northbound Riverview Boulevard near Interstate 270 after realizing it was taken in a carjacking the night before in the 1400 block of Cochran Place in St. Louis.

The carjacking victim told St. Louis police he was sitting in the car when two men with guns demanded he get out at around 11 p.m.

Russell fled from the officers and "evaded spike strips" that had been deployed. He also traveled the wrong way into oncoming traffic, ran red lights and ignored stop signs, police said.

Panus said the department's pursuit policy was followed during the chase.

"It was taken in a carjacking, so it does fit our pursuit criteria," Panus said.

On Friday, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office issued amended charges for Russell. He's now charged with second-degree murder, two counts of second-degree assault, resisting arrest by fleeing, first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle and driving while suspended.

Police said he admitted his driver’s license was suspended.

Russell was taken to a hospital following the crash, but "suffered no apparent injuries," Panus said. A handgun was also recovered from the Dodge.

Russell is being held without bail at the St. Louis County Jail.


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