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9 Killed and 14 Injured in Traffic Accidents Over Weekend


Nine people were killed, among them a 7-year-old girl, and 14 were injured in a rash of weekend traffic accidents across Southern California, authorities said.

Two of the injured were hurled from a car that police believe was drag-racing in Sylmar, on the same stretch of road where police say a drag-racer killed a woman and seriously injured her children last month.

Half an hour later, at about 3:15 a.m. Sunday, a head-on collision in the northern Los Angeles County town of Littlerock killed a 7-year-old girl and a 31-year-old man, Cuauhtemoc Mujica, when their car was struck by another car that had drifted across California 138, Highway Patrol officials said. A 5-month-old boy injured in the crash was in critical condition at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center; four other people received serious injuries.

Within half an hour after the Littlerock crash, a driver traveling the wrong way on Interstate 10 in Redlands collided with another car. That crash killed three men and seriously injured another person, the CHP said.

The dead were identified as Dario Sebastian, 23; one of his passengers, Heriberto Orozco, 23, both of Fillmore; and the wrong-way driver, 32-year-old Jose Moreno of San Bernardino, said San Bernardino County Deputy Coroner Jim Sedgewick. Sebastian's other passenger, who was not identified, was in serious condition.

Moreno was driving westbound in the eastbound lanes when he forced one car into the center divider before crashing into Sebastian's car, said CHP Officer Raymond Ynostroza, who added that open alcohol containers were found in Moreno's vehicle.

In the Sylmar incident, a man and a 16-year-old youth were in critical condition Sunday after being thrown from a car broadsided during a suspected drag-race at a popular Sylmar street-racing spot, police said.

The accident, which involved two 1993 Honda Civics with three occupants each, occurred about 2:45 a.m. when one car attempting a U-turn on San Fernando Road was broadsided by the second car, police said.

"The suspicion is very high that this was a street race," said Officer Phil Walters, given "the number of people at the scene, the types of cars and the age of the kids."

He said several witnesses were fleeing as police arrived. Christopher Delmendo, 23, the driver of the vehicle that was hit, and his unidentified 16-year-old passenger were listed in critical condition Sunday, officials said.

Neither was wearing seat belts. A second passenger, Miguel Rincon, 20, who had been wearing a seat belt, was admitted to a Northridge hospital for observation.

All three occupants of the second Honda, driven by 21-year-old Walter Clarke of Arleta, were treated for minor injuries at the scene and were held for questioning. No arrests have been made but the investigation is continuing. All were wearing seat belts, and the driver's air bag inflated upon impact, police said.

"Some of the witnesses admitted knowing that street racing was going on at the time," said Officer Kelene Gibson. But she added that witnesses said the two cars involved in the accident were not racing.

Police said the illegal races, which have resulted in four deaths in the past two years, have been a tradition in Sylmar for two generations. But despite checking race spots on popular weekend nights, police said dwindling resources and the fact that the racers keep moving around stops them from eradicating the problem.

And in Santa Barbara County, on California 154 near Santa Ynez, a fiery head-on collision Saturday afternoon between a sports car and a minivan killed four people and critically burned two children.

A 6-year-old and a 10-year-old suffered second- and third-degree burns over half their bodies and were airlifted to the burn unit at Sherman Oaks Hospital.

"Both the drivers and the right-front passengers of both vehicles couldn't be rescued due to the intense heat and flames," a CHP official said.

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