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Police seek driver in fatal crash; family looks for answers about what really happened that night

Police seek driver in fatal crash; family looks for answers about what really happened that night

Police are looking for the man pictured in this image from a convenience store’s surveillance camera in connection to the fatal collision.


POSTED November 9, 2012 10:07 p.m.

Police investigators are still seeking the driver of a car that crashed into a house killing 18-year-old Taylor Vessel, and Vessel's family is looking for answers on what really happened that night.

Images from a convenience store’s surveillance camera were released with the hope that the public might be able to identify a man deemed “a person of interest” in the fatal collision.

Police have been searching since Saturday for the man behind the wheel in the crash that killed Vessel and believe the man in the photos could shed some light on the case.

Vessel was a passenger in a silver Chevy Malibu that crashed into a tree and then a house. No one was injured at the home.

The Malibu was first spotted by a Turlock Police officer parked with another car near a strip mall at Marshall Street and Golden State Boulevard at 3:25 a.m. Saturday.

The officer shined a spotlight on the two cars and the Malibu sped off, said Turlock Police Sgt. Stephen Webb.

The Malibu accelerated to a high rate of speed on Golden State and then turned onto F Street.

The officer followed after the vehicle, but lost sight of it briefly. It wasn’t long but a few minutes later a caller reported a vehicle had struck a tree and then crashed into a house in the 1200 block of Lander Avenue.

Witnesses reported seeing the male driver flee the scene.

Residents and emergency personnel tried to revive Vessel, who had been ejected from the car. She was rushed to Emanuel Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Police have been in touch with the registered owner of the Chevy Malibu, though Webb said the owner “is not cooperating with the investigation.”

The police haven't identified the woman in the surveillance photos, but according to Vessel's cousins Angel Lopez and Salena Estrada, the woman is Natasha Titsworth, a friend of Vessel.

"We would just like her to come forward and tell us what really happened that night so we could have some closure," said Lopez.

Vessel was a graduate of the Stanislaus Military Academy and a student at Merced Junior College with plans of going into the criminal justice field.

"She's always been very shy and she was just coming into herself and enjoying life and her family," said Lopez.

"We've heard different stories from different people about what really happened that night. People need to come forward and face the consequences of what they did that night," said Estrada.

A memorial fund has been set up for Vessel. Donations can be made at any Farmers and Merchants Bank or at www.gofundme.com/1gxk74.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 17 at New Life Christian Church, 2918 W. Tuolumne Rd., Turlock.

Turlock police are actively investigating this incident and ask anyone with any information to contact Officer Joe Dusel at 664-7380.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the case. Callers can leave a tip at Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Tipsters can also e-mail tips at http://www.modestopolice.com/CrimeStoppers, or text them to CRIMES (274637) by typing "Tip704" plus the message.

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