L.A. Car Wrecks Take 7 Lives


 
 

Ruben VivesAnna Gorman | | Tuesday, May 27, 2008


LOS ANGELES -- Seven people died and 19 more were injured Monday in two Los Angeles-area Memorial Day auto accidents, including a fiery six-car pileup along Crenshaw Boulevard.

The South Los Angeles crash occurred about 6 p.m. at Crenshaw Boulevard and Florence Avenue, leaving several cars ablaze, melting a traffic signal and strewing wreckage about the streets, authorities said.

Three people, including two children -- ages 7 and 12 -- died at the scene.

Two more were taken to a hospital but died shortly after, Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman Karen Smith said.

Sixteen others were injured, several critically.

Police believe the deadly collision began when a van speeding south on Crenshaw ran a red light and a second van traveling west crashed into it, sending the first one into the air.

"By the time the van landed," Smith said, "it was fully engulfed in flames."

The collision set off a chain reaction involving four more vehicles. "When officers first arrived, all they could see was fire and smoke," she said.

"It was an immense, incredible scene."

In all, more than 100 firefighters responded and emergency workers set up a triage area.

Earlier, a sport-utility vehicle drove off a narrow canyon road in the Hollywood Hills, rolled down a steep hill and crashed against a carport, authorities said.

Two people died and three others were injured during that accident, which occurred shortly before 8 a.m.

A white Range Rover went off Crescent Drive, tumbled about 250 feet and landed upside-down against the carport of a home in the 8700 block of Duncamp Place, near Lookout Mountain Avenue, according to police and fire officials.

A man in his 70s, who was trapped in the vehicle, died at the scene.

A woman in her 20s was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead, Los Angeles Police Capt. Nancy Lauer said.

The driver, a woman in her 40s who police believe might have been the dead man's caretaker, was critically injured and two other passengers, including a toddler, suffered moderate injuries, Lauer said.

Residents and law enforcement officials described a quick and sizable response to the scene, as Los Angeles city Fire Department engines, rescue vehicles and ambulances carrying about 60 rescue personnel wound their way up the tight, labyrinth-like streets on the west side of Laurel Canyon Boulevard.

The driver was apparently trying to back up or turn around and may have lost control when the vehicle dipped into a large pothole that nearly spans the road, Lauer said.

The luxury SUV came to rest wedged between the steep embankment and the edge of the carport -- its backside badly damaged, its wheels clogged with brush from the hillside, but its passenger compartment largely intact.

The injured victims apparently escaped through the sunroof, which had been torn away.

"If the child had not been in a car seat, it is likely it would have been ejected and killed," Lauer said.

It remained unclear whether the others were wearing seat belts.

The identities of the people involved and the relationships among them were not yet known, Lauer said.




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