A Kansas teen trying to escape from an SUV that was stolen while she was inside died after she became entangled in a seat belt and was dragged for miles through an open car door, leading to the driver’s arrest on a charge of murder.
Wichita police say the 13-year-old girl, identified by her family as Brianna Ibarra, had stayed behind in the back seat of a Ford Escape that was parked, but left running, outside of a restaurant as other family members went in to grab food shortly before noon Saturday.
A man, 34-year-old Kevin Palmer, of Wichita, then allegedly jumped into the driver’s seat of the vehicle and drove away with the girl inside.
The girl attempted to exit the car as it was moving, but was caught in the seatbelt and then dragged outside of the vehicle. “Palmer continued to flee for several miles,” police alleged in a news release.
A witness who saw the situation called 911 and followed the SUV. Police say the driver stopped and then fled on foot, but was quickly arrested by officers who arrived on the scene.
“This is one of the saddest cases I have been associated with in my over 28 years of law enforcement,” said police Chief Gordon Ramsay.
Brianna was “full of life,” and someone who “always made everybody laugh, loved her family [and] was always up for any adventure,” said her parents, reports KAKE TV.
They described the loss as “a tragedy that no family should have to go through.”
The middle school student “loved to create,” said her older sister Marissa Ibarra, and was “easy and fun to be around. She was bright, carefree, straightforward, family oriented, strong, would do anything for [her] family, affectionate,” she told the TV station.
A family friend created a GoFundMe account for donors to contribute to the family’s expenses.
Palmer, who police say has several prior convictions for felony crimes, is being held at the Sedgwick County jail on multiple charges including first-degree murder, theft and driving with a suspended or revoked license. His bond on the murder charge is $500,000, according to online court records.
It was not immediately clear if an attorney had been appointed to represent him.