LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Minutes before their teen daughter was killed when a police chase ended in a violent crash, Brooklyn James’ parents were texting her, telling her that things were going to be OK.
Nineteen-year-old Brooklyn James died when the car she was riding in slammed into a utility pole near the intersection of State Road 256 and Thompson Road in Jefferson County on Thursday afternoon. James was in the back seat. Tyler Cooley, 18, was sitting in the front passenger seat, and he was killed, too. Driving the car was 18-year-old Blake Coombs, who was flown to University Hospital. His condition has not been released.
Friday afternoon, James’ parents visited the scene of the crash, and somehow, her father found enough composure to speak to reporters.
“I know for sure that people seen my daughter waving and hanging and she was the back passenger, for sure, and the only one, and they said (they) seen her waving, and wanting out of the vehicle,” Brian James said. “There are people up here that said she was waving the surrender sign when they went by up here ... One person said they seen her literally like duck down ... like she was scared.”
James added that his wife, Jackie James, is scheduled to have a tumor removed next week.
“The worst thing is my wife has to go for cancer and have a tumor removed out Tuesday,” he said. “I was thinking I may lose my wife and now I may lose both my wife and daughter.”
James also said he and his wife were texting their daughter during the chase.
“We just sent her a message to Brooklyn during the chase, saying, ‘Don’t worry, things are gonna be alright,’” he said. “We think Brooklyn has her phone the whole time, right? But it kept pinging back to home, our house, and we go home and there it is and there’s that message right there sitting there waiting for her to read about her mom and her tumor and how things are gonna be alright.”
Police said Coombs shouldn’t have been behind the wheel; he didn’t have a license. The police pursuit began when he allegedly wouldn’t pull over for a traffic stop.
Without their daughter, Brian and Jackie want to know why police decided to continue the chase.
“There has to come a time when you make a choice of what you’re going to do, whose life you’re going to choose, you know? Get them another day,” Brian said. “They were both innocent victims.”
Mayor Bob Courtney of the City of Madison released a statement to the city’s Facebook page. It reads in part:
"Today our community is faced with heartache as we mourn the lives lost in yesterday’s tragic event.
When police pursuits end in tragedy our officers, first responders, and entire community are significantly impacted.
More importantly, we want to share our deepest condolences with all individuals affected by this tragedy, especially the families who lost loved ones. We ask that the public respect the privacy of the families affected and allow them time to grieve."