An immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angel Chiwengo arrived in the U.S. with only a few dollars in her pocket last year.
Chiwengo, 46, who joined her family in Baltimore, held a job and was soon to be a grandmother, was one of three killed in a fiery crash Sept. 24 that ended a four-mile police “pursuit.”
Chiwengo, who was living with her brother in Reisterstown, was returning from her job as a housekeeper at a DoubleTree Hotel, and being driven home by a colleague, Andrew Baker, when a car carrying two men who police had been pursuing for four miles, slammed into the Jeep Baker was driving.
The resulting collision triggered a fire that killed the Chiwengo and the two men police were following and tied up the intersection of York Road and Northern Parkway for ten hours.
Baltimore police officials declined to say whether the pursuit was a chase in violation of police policy prohibiting all but authorized chases under the directive of a police commander. They also declined to say whether the pursuing car was a marked or unmarked police vehicle.
“We didn’t know anything,” Chiwengo’s brother-in-law, Nathan Franklin told the AFRO. “We had been calling her since 6 a.m. that morning because her daughter went into labor.”
Franklin said after driving to Chiwengo’s house, and not getting an answer at the door, he and his wife Pascaline began to worry.
“For some reason the crashed that happened earlier that morning popped in my head,” Franklin said. After he told his wife about the story, she instantly knew it was her sister.
“She became hysterical and was crying,” Franklin said of his wife.
According to police, officers were following the Honda occupied by the two men, later identified as Devell Johns, 36 and Terrell Young, 30, after they observed what officers described as “suspicious activity.”
Police said the occupants apparently disregarded police attempts to stop the car.
The pursuit ended four miles later.
“It was a very horrific scene, it was a very horrific crash,” Commissioner Anthony Batts said at a news conference. “Any loss of humanity in the city is tragic for us.”
Johns, Young and Chiwengo were pronounced dead at the scene. Baker is in critical condition at Johns Hopkins Bayview.
Batts said, “My heart is broken and it’s an impact to the organization.”
Now Franklin and Pascaline, want answers.
“She was a big part of me, we did everything together,” Pascaline told the AFRO. “That was my best friend.”
The last time they spoke with Chiwengo on Sept. 23. “We talked about normal everyday issues,” Franklin said. “We were just talking about life.”
“She was just a great person with a lot of life,” he said. “She was a mother, a sister, a friend and a grandmother—who wasn’t able to see her first granddaughter.” Her daughter delivered a girl several hours after the crash.
Just 20 days shy of qualifying for life insurance offered through her job, Chiwengo’s family seeks justice for their loss and seeks help for paying for funeral arrangements.
“No one has reached out to us,” Franklin said.
“Not the mayor, or councilman in my district has yet to contact us,” he said.
Franklin told the AFRO Commissioner Batts was scheduled to meet with he and his family on Sept. 30, however he never showed up.
“It was a no call no show,” Franklin said. “I called the office later on and I was told the Commissioner didn’t come due to scheduling mishap.”
“We want to know everything that happened. We want to see what is going on now,” he said. “It’s not fair to us, we want the truth.”
Pascaline said her sister came to the U.S. to be with her family and start a business. “She travelled the world, visiting China and Dubai, and she just wanted to be with family.”
“Now she is gone and we don’t know what happened.”
Franklin said the Bea Gaddy Foundation, Huber Memorial Church and Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens all stepped in and helped. He said Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens donated a plot, the opening and closing fees, the weekend facility charges fees and the vault holding the casket.
“It has been limitless to the amount of help they have provided,” Franklin said.
Chiwengo was a member of Christian Revival Church in Westminster. She was a mother of three, two daughters and one son.
The viewing will be held on Oct. 4 at Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home and the funeral will be held on Oct. 5 at NorthSide Baptist Church.
The family is in the “process of seeking legal advice.”