Mother of 5, 3 cats killed after crash into SPCA building

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Vigil held for driver after fatal SCPA crash. Sharrie Williams reports during Action News at 4 p.m. on July 10, 2017. (WPVI)

A vigil was held for a mother of five who died when her car slammed into the Brandywine Valley SPCA in New Castle, Delaware.

A crowd gathered at the scene to remember 36-year-old Latoya Cooper.

Police say Cooper lost control of her vehicle and slammed into the shelter on South Street early Sunday morning.

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Woman, animals killed after crash into SPCA building. Bob Brooks reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on July 9, 2017.

Cooper and three cats died in the crash and the ensuing fire.

But 98 other animals were rescued and many of them still need new homes.

"We still have a lot of dogs moving through from the temporary facilities into our shelters. We've had a great response from the communities. Here in West Chester alone we had 56 adoptions of cats and dogs yesterday, but we still have a lot of animals that need homes," Linda Torelli of the BVSPCA said.

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Animals rescued from SPCA fire on July 9, 2017.

The Brandywine SPCA is requesting financial donations to help cover the building damage, and to pay for the animals' medical care.

Juanetta Cooper, Latoya's mother, said she received a call from authorities soon after the crash.

"She went through the stop sign and must have kept going through. I just was bawling," Juanetta Cooper said.

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Driver's mother speaks to Action News. Bob Brooks reports during Action News at 12 p.m. on July 9, 2017.

It happened around 12:15 a.m. Sunday on the 800 block of South Street in New Castle.

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Deadly crash, fire at Del. SPCA. Bob Brooks reports during Action News at 7 a.m. on July 9, 2017.

Officials say the driver lost control of her vehicle and crashed into the building; the impact of the crash resulted in a fire.

"Latoya was a people person. She loves her kids to death, loved life," Juanetta Cooper said.

Latoya Cooper was the mother of five young children. Juanetta Cooper says she will now have to raise them.
"I'm gonna need some help burying my daughter. If anyone can help me. I really appreciate it. She got five kids. I'm going to need some help," she said.

"We had people coming out of their houses bringing animals into their cars and homes, first responders putting them into ambulances. A lot of people with big hearts stepped up to save them," Linda Torelli, of the SPCA, said.

Two cats needed emergency veterinary care; one died from its injuries, and the other is being treated for burns and smoke inhalation. Two other cats lost their lives in the fire. The other animals have been relocated to temporary housing and are being examined by medical personnel.

A total of 98 animals, 36 cats and 62 dogs, were moved to other locations.

The fire was extinguished within a half hour, but it severely damaged the veterinary clinic inside the structure.

Smoke and water also caused damage to the shelter section of the building.

SPCA officials say they are incredibly thankful for the rapid response from firefighters and neighbors who saved the surviving animals.

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Deadly crash at Del. SPCA. Nydia Han reports during Action News at 6 a.m. on July 9, 2017.

The facility will be closed for an undetermined period of time, pending a building inspection and possible subsequent cleanup and repairs.

This same SPCA branch recently agreed to take on animals from lower Delaware while the facility there expands.

Police have not yet determined what caused the driver to crash into the building.

The BVSPCA say they need the community's help during this crisis. Officials say anyone who has been thinking of adopting should visit one of their other adoption locations: the Georgetown, Del., campus; the PetSmart Everyday Adoption Center in Dover, Del.; or the West Chester, Pa. campus. Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The BVSPCA says financial donations are also needed to help with the additional cost to care for the animals and the damage to the building.


A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family of Latoya Cooper.
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delaware newsSPCAcrashaccidentu.s. & worldDelaware
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