Police chase crash victim remembered for compassion

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A Fresno County man heads to prison as a convicted murderer for a car crash during a police chase. (KFSN)

A Fresno County man heads to prison as a convicted murderer for a car crash during a police chase.

Mark Bourdase was on his way home to Clovis -- when Alexander Soto killed him in Feb. 2013.

Family members remember Bourdase as a handyman who was funny, incredibly smart, and extremely sarcastic. He loved to do genealogy back when you needed to travel the world to trace your family tree. But his particular branch didn't get to grow to its full length because of a repeat criminal. Sixteen miles into a police chase, Alexander Soto ran his 20th stoplight and smashed his SUV into the side of the car driven by Bourdase. The 61-year-old died a few days later.

"As Mark lay dying in the hospital, I leaned over and whispered in his ear 'Thank you for never treating me differently,'" said his sister, Shalon Bourdase. "That was the best way I could describe what he meant to me."

Bourdase grew up in a bowling family. His dad, Ed, was a national champion.
Now 89, Ed says his son followed him around on tour sometimes and took a stand against racism on the lanes in the south.

Later in life, he says Mark learned Spanish to communicate with co-workers in the construction business. That's just the kind of man he was.

"I miss him very much, said Ed Bourdase. "I love you, Mark."

Alexander Soto has a history of drug convictions and police chases. He'd just run from a Fowler cop five months earlier, and a 2005 felony conviction for a previous chase allowed prosecutors to put him on trial for murder when he killed Bourdase.

"I'm not a bad person, but I've made a lot of poor choices," he said. "And I would just like to say I'm very remorseful, sorry for the family and I'm ashamed for my actions."

Bourdase's family, reflecting the compassion they cherished in the man they lost, is choosing to accept Soto's apology and move on, while encouraging Soto to change his ways during his time in prison.

"While we cannot change the past, I believe we have a say on our actions in the future," said Mark's son, Marcel. "As for my own actions, I choose forgiveness and love over hate and anger."

Judge Denise Whitehead didn't really buy the remorse from Soto, especially since he testified at trial that the crash was really the police's fault since they wouldn't call off the chase. She sentenced him to life in prison with no chance at parole for more than 21 years.

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traffic fatalitiesfresno countyclovisfresnohigh-speed chaseClovisFresno
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