Isabella Cortes was pronounced dead at the scene after she and her siblings fell victim to a violent carjacking on Sunday afternoon in Pico Rivera.
As 13-year-old Isabella and her three siblings — her older sister, 18, as well as younger brothers 11 and 8 years of age — sat inside a minivan, waiting for their parents to return to the vehicle from picking up take-out from a restaurant, the vehicle was allegedly invaded by Jose Aguilar, 26.
Aguilar reportedly told the children to get out of the vehicle, but accelerated onto Whittier Boulevard before they had the chance to do so. Isabella’s older sister briefly fought with the suspect, before she and her 11-year-old brother were ejected from the vehicle. They struck the pavement at approximately 50 miles per hour, and the vehicle was moving even faster when the 8-year-old was thrown from it.
Isabella was thrown from the vehicle at approximately 60 MPH, striking a “stationary object,” according to Sheriff’s Lieutenant Barry Hall. While all of her siblings suffered injuries, she was the only fatality. Aguilar then allegedly crashed the vehicle into another one near Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, whereupon he immediately fled and attempted to steal another occupied vehicle, parked by a fruit stand.
Unfortunately for the suspect, this time help was very near at hand. “The dad who was trying to buy the fruit, jumps back into the car, chokes the guy out, and that’s when the fruit guys came up and helped him pull [Aguilar] out of the car,” Hall said. “And I believe they actually tied him up and detained him for the deputies.”
Aguilar was arrested for vandalism in May, but was released without bail. At the time of the alleged carjacking, he was also on probation for other crimes.