Mother of rollover crash victim in Tonopah that led to trooper ambush speaks out

Posted at 10:06 PM, Jan 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-17 10:11:57-05

ABC15 talked to the mother of a crash victim who was connected to an incident where a man ambushed and shot an Arizona trooper.

Trooper Edward Andersson with the Arizona Department of Public Safety responded to I-10 near Tonopah Thursday morning after drivers reported a rollover crash. Drivers also reported a man dragging a woman’s body out of the road.

The man was later identified as Leonard Pennuelas Escobar.

DPS says Escobar shot and wounded Andersson after he approached him and began assaulting him until a Good Samaritan stopped to help the trooper. The Samaritan shot Escobar three times in order to subdue him. The final shot killed him. 

The woman in the rollover crash, later identified as Vanessa Lopez-Ruiz, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

Lopez-Ruiz’s mother spoke out about the incident saying she had never met Escobar.

“I want to know what happened,” Jessica Ruiz, Vanessa’s mother, said. “I don't know what type of person [Escobar] was. Mean? Nice? I don't know."

Ruiz had been waiting for her daughter to want to start over in life and return home. Ruiz said her daughter became depressed two years ago after her father died, and had not been a drug user before then.

“She was going through some very hard things in her life, for quite a bit of time.”

Vanessa’s two sons were living with her mother. 

"I wanted her to come home to me,” Ruiz said. “The right way, not this way."

Ruiz is raising money for her daughter’s funeral through a GoFundMe page