Children killed by stolen cruiser ‘an incredibly tragic event for our city’

A church leader said two families “bringing up their kids in the right way” will get support from him and their faith as they cope with the deaths of two children killed when a stolen police cruiser struck the van they were in as they dropped off a library book.

Cousins Penelope Jasko of Dayton and Eleanor McBride of Huber Heights, both 6, were killed in the crash about 7:30 p.m. Monday, according to Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger.

“This is an incredibly tragic event for our city, particularly for the families impacted,” said Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl. “I ask you keep them in our thoughts and prayers.”

Father Satish Joseph was with the families at the hospital and said he knows both families personally.

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The Jasko family are members of his parish, Immaculate Conception Church and St. Helen. Joseph said he has baptized some of the children in both the Jasko and McBride families.

Joseph said the families are “quintessential Catholic” families.

“They are respectful, kind, just good, healthy, wholesome kids,” Joseph said. “And the parents are good wholesome parents who are bringing up their kids in the right way.”

Melissa Jasko was driving a minivan with six of her children and at least one child of her sister’s, Sarah McBride, when the crash occurred.

“Everyone in the car was injured in some way or another,” Joseph said.

The family had finished dropping off a library book and was pulling away from the curb of the library when the stolen police cruiser ran a red light at South Patterson Boulevard and struck the minivan and one other car.

Police said Raymond A. Walters, 32, stabbed his father in a black pickup truck, then crashed that truck and stole a Riverside police cruiser that eventually crashed into Jasko’s vehicle, killing the two children. A third child is in critical condition.

MORE: Who is Raymond Walters?

Ten other people were injured in the crash. The six other passengers in the Jasko car are in stable condition, Dayton police said.

Walters hit a car with three adults in it. The passengers in that car have either been treated and released or are in the hospital in stable condition.

Both Penelope and Eleanor were pronounced dead at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

“This guy was doing the wrong thing, and the victims were totally unrelated, totally innocent,” Joseph said. “It’s evil. It’s wrong.”

Joseph said that he will be available to his parishioners in whatever way they need.

“In these days we talk about ‘Dayton strong,’ ” Joseph said. “This is church strong, this is faith strong.”

Denorris Hopgood was driving to dinner with his children when he saw the aftermath of the crash on East Third Street.

“I jumped out and did my best to get as many children out of the van as I could,” Hopgood said.

He said it was difficult to see what he witnessed: one child severely injured, another pinned between a door and a seat.

Tim Kambitsch, the executive director of the Dayton Metro Library, said library staff are “shaken” by the crash that happened outside their building.

“I know you all join me in sending your most heartfelt condolences for the families involved,” Kambitsch said in a written statement to staff in which he urged those in need of counseling to seek it.

PHOTOS: Crash involving stolen police cruiser near Dayton Metro Library in Dayton