The last weeks of the late Tiffini Kuuipo Tobe’s life were sad and manic indeed.
California Highway Patrol officers say they saw the 48-year-old La Habra resident asleep at the wheel of her Mercedes on the shoulder of the 91 freeway on Jan. 18 and tried to rouse her.
Instead, Waianae, Hawaii-born Tobe stepped on the gas and led the officers on a chase that reached speeds of 90 mph, according to Orange County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Malone.
Officers twice tried to get Tobe’s car to stop, with a PIT maneuver finally spinning the Mercedes around on the 91, as seen in dramatic footage from a television news copter.
The driver was also seen opening a door and getting out of the car once it stopped spinning on the freeway’s middle lanes, only to be followed by four of the six dogs that had been riding in the Benz with her. Two of them were pit bulls and one was a puppy.
Tobe was charged Jan. 20 with evading police while driving recklessly, a felony, as well as misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of alcohol, resisting and obstructing an officer and driving without a valid license.
Officers also learned an arrest warrant had been issued because Tobe failed to appear in court last month for a pretrial hearing on misdemeanor charges of failing to provide veterinary treatment for a pit bull terrier that had to be euthanized.
Her former dog Alan was put to sleep in February 2015 after he gnawed the skin off his rear foot down to the bone due to an untreated illness, according to Malone, adding the paw “was basically self-amputated.”
Because of that incident, Tobe was under a court order not to have any animals, so those pooch passengers from the freeway chase could have conceivably led to another violation.
She posted $50,000 bail on Feb. 16 and was released from jail, but Tobe’s bond was forfeited Monday
when she did not show up for a court hearing related to the freeway chase and was declared a fugitive.
A dead fugitive, as it turns out.
Around 6:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 18—or four days before the court hearing—a woman jumped out of the emergency window at the back of an Orange County Transportation Authority bus that was traveling at speeds of 20-25 mph along La Palma Avenue in Anaheim.
That spectacle was captured by surveillance video and also shown to television viewers, as was this: the woman pulling herself up from the ground, darting across busy La Palma and, at one point, trying to get into an occupied vehicle.
She also leaped onto a car and got into a confrontation with a few men before an off-duty police officer drove up to the scene and subdued her, according to Anaheim Police Sgt. Daron Wyatt.
A uniformed, on-duty officer arrived and with his body camera captured the woman speaking incoherently and, by now handcuffed, appearing to have a heart attack and kneeling over, said Wyatt, who added she was also suffering from a head injury sustained in the jump from the bus.
The woman, later identified as Tobe, was treated under guard at a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 12:23 p.m. Friday, according to Lt. Mark Stichter of the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner’s Department.
While Malone’s freeway chase case is now moot, there is more Tobe-related work for the Orange County District Attorney’s office, which investigates in-custody deaths.