Oakland couple gets car back from tow company after deadly chase
OAKLAND, Calif. - A young couple who couldn't afford to pay a tow company to get their SUV back after a deadly chase in Oakland that killed their cousin finally got their Volkswagen Atlas back.
Adante Pointer said that Ina Lavalu, 24, and her husband, Daniel Fifita, 25, were able to retrieve their vehicle this weekend after KTVU aired a story about their plight.
Auto Plus of Oakland would not let them get their Volkswagen back unless they paid a bill that was more than $1,200, nor would the towing company let them retrieve any of their personal belongings unless they paid up.
Four hours after KTVU shared the young couple's story last week, someone from the Oakland Police Department called Pointer to say that Lavalu and Fifita could use victim's assistance fund money to pay for the return of their VW, which they use to drive around their seven children, four of whom they are raising after a relative died.
The Volkswagen is now totaled and the couple will have to figure out what to do with it now.
The reason it's totaled stems from what happened on June 26 at 54th Avenue and International Boulevard.
That's when a 19-year-old driver, identified as Arnold Linaldi, was allegedly at an illegal sideshow and speeding down International Boulevard at 100 mph.
Two rookie Oakland police officers initiated an unauthorized chase, two sources told KTVU, and then fled the scene when Linaldi crashed his Nissan 350 Z into a row of parked cars and motorcycles. The police chief has since stripped those officers of their police powers and is seeking to terminate them.
One of the parked cars belonged to Lavalu.
She and her husband suffered injuries and were taken to the hospital.
When her father returned to the scene to get her Volkswagen, an Oakland police officer told him no because he had already called the tow company, Pointer said.
Linaldi also crashed into a car belonging to Lolo Soakai, as well as a row of parked motorcycles.
One of the motorcycles was ejected and landed on Soakai, killing the 28-year-old airlines supervisor and gospel singer at his church. His mother, who was standing next to him, broke her back.
All the four family members had nothing to do with the chase or the sideshow, they had just been enjoying a bite to eat at a taco truck in the area.
Now, family members are planning a funeral for Soakai, who had been the sole provider for his mother after his father had died.
Linaldi was arrested on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter, but had since bailed out of custody. He has not been charged by the District Attorney's Office with any crime.
IF YOU'RE INTERESTED: An aunt started a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.
Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at email@example.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez