Coverage and raw video of Southern California's wild pursuits

"Tell Me Why Somebody Took My Daughter"

A pursuit led to a crash, killing a 12-year-old girl and seriously injuring two family members

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A memorial was held for a 12-yaer-old girl who died when the minivan she was in was hit by a man fleeing police. Robert Kovacik reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Friday, April 4, 2014. (Published Friday, Apr 4, 2014)

    Thomas Nguyen could not hold back his tears as he collapsed on Friday at a memorial for his only daughter, killed in a crash by a felon fleeing police.

    Vivian Nguyen, a seventh grader, died Thursday night as she was on her way home from Johnson Middle School in a crash that also injured her mother and 13-year-old brother.

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    A stream of mourners paid their respects to Vivian at a curbside memorial on Friday.

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    Mourners brought flowers and stuffed animals. Her father put up a picture of his little girl who enjoyed playing the piano and painting.

    "Doctors said she died right away and the hit was so bad and her heart stopped beating," said Thomas Nguyen, through tears. "I just only have one girl ... I love her so much.

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    "Tell me why somebody took my daughter."

    The crash happened when a wanted felon, Aleksandar Apostoic, 26, allegedly fled police after he rammed a police car, injuring an officer.

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    The suspect was driving an SUV at up to 80 mph when he allegedly hit the minivan that Vivian and her mother and brother were in. The Suburban also struck another vehicle. The pursuit lasted 90 seconds, police said.

    Vivian died en route to the hospital, police said.

    The mother and brother were hospitalized in critical, but stable, condition.

    Police arrested Apostoic hours after the crash. Police found him in bushes in a backyard. He had run from his overturned vehicle and scaled a wall of a home several blocks from the crash scene.

    Police received a 911 call from a resident reporting a stranger in her house, police said.

    Police responded within a minute, officials said.

    The suspect ran out of the back door of the residence, and tried to hide in a nearby backyard. He was found hiding in bushes with the assistance of an Anaheim police helicopter fitted with an infrared camera, officials said.

    The suspect got into the residence through an open door and hid there for several hours before he was noticed, police said.

    Apostoloic received medical attention for minor scrapes and bruises.

    Apostoloic was facing possible charges of murder, assault of a police officer with a deadly weapon and reckless evasion. He had previously been sought on firearms and drug offences, police said.

    Counselors were at Vivian's school on Friday to help students and staff cope with the tragedy.

    "This is a heartbreaking loss for our school and community," the school's principal said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. "

    Vivian's father, meanwhile, could not come to grips with his daughter's death.

    Earlier Friday, he hadn't mustered the courage to tell his wife and son that that Vivian did not survive.

    Instead, he told his wife their little girl was in a coma.

    "I tried to work so hard," Thomas Nguyen said, sobbing. "I picture everything the best for her."

    NBC4 Staffers Oleevia Woo, Jonathan Lloyd and Toni Guinyard contributed to this report.