A fiery crash that killed a viral, teen TikTok star last week in Texas was the result of a police chase, authorities have revealed.
On September 27, Gabriel Salazar, a 19-year-old who amassed over 2 million followers on TikTok under the handle GabeNotBabe with lip-syncing and dance videos, took off from Crystal City Police after a traffic stop was attempted along a stretch of highway just past 1 a.m., a spokeswoman told The Daily Beast.
The spokeswoman said she did not know what the traffic stop was for. “All I know is that it was a traffic stop that led into a pursuit,” she said.
While a Crystal City Police officer pursued Salazar, who drove a white 2014 Chevy Camaro, a deputy with the Zavala County Sheriff’s Office assisted by deploying a tire deflation device that proved unsuccessful, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement earlier this week.
A Zavala County Sheriff's Office spokesman declined to provide more details to The Daily Beast beyond their statement.
Although the attempted deflation didn’t work, according to the Sheriff’s Office, the Crystal City Police officer later reported that Salazar’s car had rolled over and was engulfed in flames.
Salazar and three men, Jose Luis Jimenez-Mora, 41, Jose Molina-Lara, 23, and Sergio Espinoza-Flores, 36, were pronounced dead at the scene, NBC News reported.
The outlet reported that the Texas Department of Public Safety, who is leading the investigation on the fatal crash, said the car drove off the road, tried to correct itself but instead drove across the highway and into a ditch where it struck trees, rolled several times and caught on fire.
According to the Department of Public Safety, who did not respond to a request for comment, the three men Salazar was in the car with were Mexican nationals.
At least one of the men, Jose Luis Jimenez-Mora, was arrested after crossing the border in October 2018 in Hidalgo County, according to federal court records. According to court filings, he entered the U.S. by wading through the Rio Grande river near Laredo, Texas.
Salazar was a San Antonio resident. Crystal City is about 100 miles outside of San Antonio, but sits close to the Mexican border.
Salazar’s outsized social media presence has led to an outpouring of fans on TikTok and Instagram mourning his death. “Rest easy brother,” wrote fellow Instagrammer, friend and collaborator, Ricky Flores. “Words can’t even explain how I feel right now. Man, I would do anything to get you back right now bro.”
Salazar’s last post on Instagram, one day before his death last week, pictured him standing near the white Camaro he was likely driving before the fatal crash.
A GoFundMe page started by Chris Vasquez on behalf of Salazar’s family raised nearly $40,000 by Saturday morning.
Vasquez wrote that Salazar loved his family. “He was always there with a big hug and smile, and his family will never forget those warm moments,” he wrote. “He was so funny with a quiet sense of humor and sarcasm. I cannot believe that I am sitting here writing this. How is this real life?”
Vasquez wrote that the family did not want to “get into the details” of Salazar’s death, “because it’s so hard for us to even talk about the pain he went through.”