Rochester mother of 5 identified as victim in fatal stolen vehicle crash on Seward Street

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — On Tuesday, Rochester police officials identified the victim of a deadly stolen vehicle crash on Seward Street earlier this week.

Police say the driver of the car, which was struck by the stolen vehicle, was identified as 36-year-old Tishara Pugh, a Rochester mother of five children.

Authorities say the passenger in Pugh’s vehicle remains hospitalized in “critical, life-threatening condition.” Officials say two of the occupants from the stolen vehicle remain hospitalized as well.

In an interview with News 8 Tuesday, Tishara’s mother, Gloria, remembered her daughter as a friend, a confidant, and an uplifter.

“Tishara was the oldest of the three children I have. I miss her. The kids miss her,” said Gloria. “But God has a better plan and we thank Him for her. But she will be greatly Missed.””

“She was a very good mom with her kids. Kept up on everything. She did a fantastic job with her babies,” Gloria added.

Four people were taken into custody Sunday after the crash. Police say the occupants of the stolen vehicle attempted to flee after being spotted by a Rochester police officer. Although the officer did not engage in a pursuit, the stolen car took off at high-rated speed and T-boned a passing vehicle.

Officials said impact from the crash sent the vehicle at least 100 yards off the road, striking a utility pole in the process.

“It was just like a bomb went off in the neighborhood,” said Bruce Register, a resident who lives across the street from Sunday’s crash.

“This is possibly one of the worst scenes I have seen in a very long time,” Rochester Police Capt. Frank Umbrino said Sunday. “The force of the impact was incredible. Out of the four suspects, at least two of them were in jail less than a month ago. One on a felony drug charge, one on a stolen car charge. Both were released from custody.”

One of the four arrested was caught in three additional stolen vehicles since 2019. He was given an appearance ticket after being found in a stolen car while with drug last month, police said.

Another was also arrested in September for being in a stolen vehicle and was issued an appearance ticket, according to officials. A third suspect had three warrants from three different law enforcement agencies.

Police have been expressing concern for bail reform for months. Umbrino saying he’s not entirely against it, there just needs to be a middle ground. 

“There are certainly aspects of bail reform that we would support and we would encourage, but they went too far,” he said. “I am the one, and my investigators are the ones, who have to go talk to families of those who got killed.”

Capt. Umbrino says crime is up significantly this year in Rochester — from homicides, to car thefts.

“Average in Rochester for motor vehicle thefts is 476 for a five year average, last year alone there was 593, this year to date we’re at about 725 motor vehicle thefts,” he said.

Rochester’s 63 homicides so far in 2021 is also historically high, and on pace to become the city’s deadliest year on record.

Register says similar incidents have happened on his street in the past, but nothing taking a life.

“Last summer a car came this way, right up into my house, almost hit my gas line almost blew my house up,” he said.

Register says the whole incident on Sunday was traumatizing to watch, especially with a young child inside.

“He’s peeking out the window of course, I’ve owned my home for 18 years I’m ready to move, last couple years there’s been so many incidents on this corner,” he said.

On Friday, officers with the RPD arrested 20-year-old TajIsaish-Joshua McMillan-Harris on Frost Avenue in connection to the crime. Harris is being charged with: Manslaughter in the 2nd Degree for the death of Tishara Pugh Four counts of Assault in the 2nd Degree for the injuries suffered by three individuals in the stolen vehicle and the passenger in the vehicle that was struck by the stolen car.

“It is alleged in the criminal complaint that McMillan-Harris was recklessly operating the stolen vehicle at an estimated speed of at least 80 mph when he struck Pugh’s vehicle causing her death, serious physical injury to her passenger, as well as serious physical injures to passengers that were in his stolen car,” the RPD said.

Additional charges will likely be considered against McMillan-Harris by a Monroe County Grand Jury.

Taj Isaish-Joshua McMillan-Harris is currently being seen at the hospital for a complaint of pain, as he did not seek treatment after the accident. He will be arraigned once he is discharged from the hospital.

McMillan-Harris is currently on Probation for a Robbery 2nd, GL 4th conviction, police say. Any further criminal history that may exist cannot be disclosed due to his age.


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