Paramedics work to extract Gasoa Balas from his crumpled car, an assault suspect who fled from police. Balas survived, but his 7-year-old daughter riding in the car without a seat belt was killed. Balas now faces charges of second-degree murder in the death of his daughter, and other charges of assault.
Photo by Andy Towle.
Editor's Note: Detectives are looking for anyone that may have witnessed Wednesday’s rollover that killed a 7-year-girl south of Payson.
The Department of Public Safety says anyone that saw the vehicle, the wreck or the aftermath is encouraged to call Det. John Ruble at (602) 223-2370.
Gasoa “Josh” Balas, 36, was reportedly fleeing from police when he lost control of a 1999 silver Toyota passenger vehicle, rolling it near milepost 246 about 4 p.m.
Officers were not pursuing Balas at the time of the crash.
His daughter, Calandra Balas, died on the scene.
Gasoa suffered only minor injuries. He faces a second-degree murder charge plus other counts.
A 7-year-old Payson girl died Wednesday at the end of a tragic chain of events that started with her father’s alleged assault on a woman and ended with a rollover accident on a deadly stretch of Highway 87, police said.
Gasoa Balas, 36, faces second-degree murder charges, plus a slew of additional counts that include assaulting a woman and attempting to run over two officers, said Police Chief Don Engler.
The accident and investigation closed Highway 87 for hours.
The violent chain of events started just before 4 p.m., when police received word of a fight on West Bonita Street.
As one officer arrived, Balas reportedly got into his 1999 silver Toyota passenger vehicle with his daughter, Calandra Balas. Police reports say he then attempted to back over the officer.
“He (Balas) would not listen to his commands to stop and in fact put the vehicle in reverse and intentionally turned the wheel in an attempt to strike the officer,” Engler said.
As another officer pulled up on the scene, Balas aimed his vehicle at the squad car, nearly striking it head-on. Balas then sped through several yards before exiting onto Bonita Street, Engler said.
The officers followed Balas east on Bonita, but gave up the chase as they approached Highway 87 due to Balas’ reckless speed, Engler said.
PPD pursuit policy dictates that officers not follow a suspect if doing so could endanger other motorists.
As Balas sped through traffic, the officers dropped back and watched him disappear south of town, Engler said.
Other officers in the area looked for the silver vehicle on side streets, but minutes later received a call from dispatch that a rollover had occurred south of town, less than a mile north of Corvair Curve.
Calandra, who was not wearing a seat belt, died on the scene. Balas was airlifted to a Scottsdale hospital, treated for a fractured nose and scratches and then later released to authorities.
A Department of Public Safety spokesperson said Balas’ blood alcohol content was over the legal limit.
Officers later learned that Balas had allegedly assaulted a woman an hour before the chase.
Acquaintances of the woman called police when they spotted Balas on West Bonita.
According to online court records, Balas has a number of traffic convictions, including driving with a suspended license, unsafe lane change, disobeying a traffic control device, driving without a valid license and displaying a suspended license plate.