Man facing multiple felony charges after deadly Fresno Co. crash

Francisco Portillo allegedly ran a red light and hit several cars, causing a 7-vehicle collision that led to the deaths of three people.

Video Transcript

- So tonight we're learning more about the moments before a fiery crash that killed three people over the weekend. Law enforcement officials blame a driver who did not want a ticket.

TONY BOTTI: This was 100% preventable. A simple pull over. Get a ticket. Go on your way. Instead, we have families' lives turned upside down.

- Police say the man who caused the collision was trying to get away from Sheriff's deputies moments before the deadly crash. Action News reporter Jessica Harrington has new details about the pursuit that was called off less than a minute before that crash. She's live in the newsroom tonight with the latest on this investigation. Jessica.

JESSICA HARRINGTON: Morogo, officials are saying that this all happened because the suspect made a decision to run from law enforcement. New surveillance video shows the moments the driver ran a red light and collided into several cars. We do want to warn viewers, this video may be hard to watch.

- Still Lincoln 31, vehicle is exceeding past 100. I'll be canceling pursuit at Mckinley and Millbrook.

JESSICA HARRINGTON: That was the deputy calling off the chase of a driver reaching 100 miles per hour. Less than 30 seconds later, investigators say the driver ran a red light at McKinley in Cedar, slamming into a car in the intersection before colliding into several others stopped at the light. Cars were immediately engulfed in flames. The Fresno County Sheriff's Office says their deputy initially tried to stop a 20-year-old Francisco Portillo for reckless driving and speeding.

TONY BOTTI: We're really in a time right now where it seems that the respect for authority is at an all time low when it comes to traffic stops.

JESSICA HARRINGTON: The deputy only chased the driver for around 25 seconds before ending the pursuit. Seconds later, the deputy saw the ball of fire.

- Lincoln 31, vehicle just crashed. It is engulfed in flames. There's a large explosion at the McKinley and Cedar. I was not in pursuit. My lights were not lit up.

TONY BOTTI: This was 100% preventable. A simple pull over. Get a ticket. Go on your way. Instead, we have families' lives turned upside down.

JESSICA HARRINGTON: Three people were killed. Two women in their 20s, who are believed to be related, and a man in his 50s. Portillo and a woman who was in the vehicle with him had major injuries and were taken to a nearby hospital. Because the crash happened within Fresno city limits, Fresno police department will be handling the investigation.

PACO BALDER: That culture needs to change here. You know, this isn't a video game. This isn't Grand Theft Auto or Need for Speed, where there's no consequences. People die.

JESSICA HARRINGTON: Fresno police say Portillo did show signs of impairment, but toxicology results are still pending. Fresno police and the Fresno County Sheriff's Office say reckless driving, speeding, and street racing need to stop.

PACO BALDER: It is something that we have to continue educating the public and really discouraging this. This type of activity.

JESSICA HARRINGTON: Fresno police say charges against Portilllo have not been recommended yet. Detectives will be reconstructing the collision, and are in contact with the district attorney's office. Officials say it is still early in the investigation, and may have more information toward the end of the week. In the newsroom, Jessica Harrington. ABC30 Action News.