A Florida man who died in a fiery car wreck alongside a 3-year-old got into a heated argument with his girlfriend, who was also the child’s mother, before he sped off in her car with the boy inside, and then almost immediately slammed it into a tree.
Plantation police on Thursday identified the crash victims as 25-year-old Ryan Yates and little James Ozan-Chapon. Authorities have released few other details regarding the deadly incident, but the boy’s grandmother Maria Cid, revealed a tense exchange between Yates and her 25-year-old daughter, Yasmine Cid, preceded the devastating car wreck.
The grieving grandmother told WPLG-TV the couple was bickering Thursday around 3:30 a.m. when Yates grabbed James and then took off in his girlfriend’s black Mercedes-Benz. Yasmine tried to open the door of the vehicle and free her son, but she was ultimately unsuccessful.
Just moments later, the luxury car struck a tree, splitting in two and exploding into flames.
“I heard two booming sounds right after the crash and then a woman screaming for her baby,” witness Elizabeth Velasco told the TV station. “She was like, ‘My baby! My baby!’ I actually started crying when I heard that because I felt really helpless.”
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Yates had a lengthy arrest record, including a charge for a battery that was ultimately dropped in 2014.
In 2017, he was charged with grand theft auto. He pleaded no contest and was put on three years of probation.
He violated his probation the next year by traveling to Oklahoma, where he was charged with burglary and obstructing a police officer. Florida revoked his probation and he spent 18 months in prison.
In February, he was charged with battery, domestic battery by strangulation, grand theft auto, and robbery. A trial was scheduled for next month.