CASTAIC — The drum roll of traffic tragedy in the San Fernando Valley area continued Friday with an accident that killed three members of a Northern California family, including one each of two sets of twins on their way to a sister's wedding.
The crash on the Golden State Freeway near Castaic also killed the twins' father and critically injured their mother and the other two twins.
The crash capped a week of multi-death traffic accidents in the Valley area. On Sunday night, a Gardena family was killed when their car swerved to avoid a vehicle that the CHP has said was racing another car on the San Diego Freeway in North Hills.
The day before, two Guatemalan sisters were killed in North Hollywood while crossing the street when they were hit by a motorist police said was speeding. On Thursday, two elderly Korean women were killed as they crossed Sherman Way in Reseda on their way to English class.
The latest accident took the lives of three members of the Moses family of Auburn, a bedroom community of 11,000 in the Sierra Nevada foothills 45 minutes north of Sacramento.
Jennifer Moses, 42, was driving her husband, Ronald Moses, 44, her twin sons by an earlier marriage, Jacob and Ryan, 18, and a younger set of twins by Moses, Jacqueline and Tyler, 12, said CHP Officer Wendy Moore. They were on their way to the wedding of Jennifer Moses' eldest daughter, Joy, scheduled for today, friends said.
About 3 a.m., they were heading south on the Golden State Freeway just past Hasley Canyon Road when their van drifted into the rear of a tractor-trailer, Moore said. As the van skidded back across the highway, Jennifer Moses tried to straighten it out, and the van overturned, Moore said.
The four twins, who the CHP officer said were lying on the rear fold-down seats without seat belts, were hurled onto the highway, as was Ronald Moses, who was sitting in the passenger seat.
Ronald, Jacob and Jacqueline Moses were pronounced dead at the scene, and the other family members were airlifted to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia, where they were in critical condition.
A hospital spokeswoman said all were conscious when they arrived, suffering from blunt force trauma. CHP officials were cautiously optimistic that the remaining family members would survive.
But specialists in child psychiatry said that the surviving twins may be extremely traumatized by the loss of their counterparts.
Said Jill Waterman, a UCLA professor of child psychology who also has twin children: "Twins often feel lost without their twin, like part of them has died. . . . To lose that special kind of bond makes the loss of the parent even harder.
"It is the kind of thing where you think, 'Why would this happen to anybody?' "
The tragedy stunned Auburn, where the family is well-known in the local Mormon community.
Just recently, the elder twins joined the local Fire Department through a volunteer program, and one of their first acts was to pull two teen-agers from a car that crashed in their neighborhood last week.
"We're a pretty close-knit community," said Richard Ogden, a neighbor, his deep voice cracking with grief. "We go to church with them. We've known them (the twins) since they were babies."
Jennifer Taylor came to town about 15 years ago with identical twin toddlers, Jacob and Ryan, and slightly older daughter Joy, friends said. Leaving a failed marriage, she moved in with her parents.
It was through a Mormon Church singles group that she met Ronald Moses, a Vietnam veteran and devout Mormon, friends said. They were soon married, and Ronald continued working as a cabinetmaker while Jennifer, an accomplished singer, dancer and guitarist, started giving private ballet lessons.
Ronald adopted Jacob, Ryan and Joy. "He loved them like they were his own," said Joyce Ahlberg, 41, who lives across the street from the family.
When Jennifer gave birth to Tyler and Jacqueline, she turned her energies to rearing her five children, friends said.
The Moses family lived in a gated community called Lake of the Pines, and was a vital presence in the local Mormon Church. Ronald was president of the Sunday school, Jennifer and her daughters frequently sang for the church, and the boys would sing in the choir. The elder twins played French horn and trumpet in their high school band.
"They're intertwined with the whole ward very closely," said Dean Heward, a bishop at the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormons are formally known.
"Ron is probably as good to help neighbors and friends and all those around him as any who lived," Heward said.
The children were well known for being hard workers. For the past six years, two of the brothers split a paper route for the Auburn Journal. Another works at a large department store.
"They are just the best kids," Ahlberg said.
The Moses family has not had it easy, friends say. The large family struggled to make ends meet, according to friends, with the main source of income being Ronald's earnings. A few years ago, friends said, Jennifer gave birth to a baby who died a few days later.
The family departed for Southern California late Thursday, after the kids' last day of school before Easter break. They were going to see Joy, now a student at Pepperdine University, and attend her wedding, friends said.
Jennifer was particularly proud of her double twins, friends said. "She'll often talk about the fact that she has two sets of twins," said friend Diane Gagon, who attends church with the family. "It's a big part of her life."
\o7 Correspondent Mark Sabbatini contributed to this story.
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