Dad who eluded police faces multiple charges for Wednesday's three-county, high-speed chase

April 13, 2012 10:34:39 AM PDT
We were first to show you that scary chase Wednesday afternoon involving a man in a truck filled with his four young children running from authorities. Police say that man, Noe Soto-Aranda, is still on the loose and that he has run from police before.

On Thursday evening, authorities were still searching for Soto-Aranda and his four children. He has been charged with assaulting a family member, endangering a child and evading arrest.

To listen to family and friends Wednesday, Soto-Aranda is a good guy who surprised everyone by leading police on a three-county chase with his four young children in the car.

First he drove along Highway 59 from southwest Houston into Fort Bend County, where he disappeared, and then in Austin County, where he crashed his truck in a fence and ran off. He left his pregnant wife Luz Lacayo in a parking lot, police tell us, after they pulled them over.

Police say they were not as aggressive as they might have been due to the four young children in the car, and the high rate of speed at which Soto-Aranda was driving.

"He's a good person, a real good person," said his mother-in-law, Estrella Rodriguez. "I don't know what's going on right now. I don't know what happened. This is something incredible for me."

We've learned that police pulled over their truck after another driver saw Soto-Aranda hitting Lacayo as she was driving. That driver called 911.

Police then saw the same thing and witnessed Soto-Aranda pushing Lacayo out of the car before speeding off with his children -- ages 9, 6, 5 and 3 -- reaching speeds of 110 miles per hour. Police say he was upset at his pregnant wife for insisting she drive after he'd had too much to drink.

"He's a good guy. I don't know," said family friend Maria Garcia. "I know him more than four or five years. So I'm surprised about this."

But we've also learned that this is not the first time police say Soto-Aranda has run from them and gotten away. Last May in Pearland, police say they pulled him over and when they found warrants for domestic abuse and traffic violations he took off, leading them through a cemetery before running off on foot and leaving his brother behind. Pearland police never caught him, and so far, neither has HPD.

Soto-Aranda does have a criminal history. Houston police don't know where Soto-Aranda or his four children are. They don't know definitively if the children are still with their father. They're still hoping to find them. Texas EquuSearch is also assisting with the effort.

"Right now the Amber Alert, the criteria doesn't meet yet. So, hopefully he's going to drive home, either to his apartment or to Pasadena, where his sister's at, and we'll be able to find them," HPD Sgt. Ronald Borza. "But right now we don't feel the kids are in any danger because it is the biological father."

There is however a new law that would allow police to enter the children into the National Missing Children Database. It was House Bill 2662 and became effective in September; it was sponsored by Houston State Representative Scott Hochberg, who saw the old law as harmful.

"The children wouldn't be considered missing unless there was a fear for their safety," Hochberg said.

But now, when there are two parents -- like Soto-Aranda and his wife Lacayo -- and one leaves with the children without the permission of the other and that parent can't find them, police can search regardless of any imminent danger.

Police say Immigration and Customs Enforcement also had an immigration violation against Soto-Aranda. ICE officials both in Houston and San Antonio said it is their policy not to discuss anything regarding him until he is in custody.

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