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Girl Killed, Classmate Hurt When Car Runs Stoplight

December 17, 1996|JOHN M. GONZALES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The police accident report will show that Lois Dancy's car struck and killed Jasmine Anzo on her way to school Monday, but it might as well have blamed it on the morning sun.

Apparently blinded by the intense light of day, Dancy ran a red light in Downey, colliding with 10-year-old Jasmine and her 10-year-old companion, Daisy Castellanos, who were crossing a busy street. Daisy suffered a fractured leg and hip.

Jasmine was pronounced dead at the scene. Daisy was conscious and in stable condition at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach, a hospital spokesman said.

Driver Dancy, 20, of West Covina, who had just dropped her mother off at work, was questioned but not arrested after the 7:30 a.m. accident.

"We are now conducting an investigation and haven't determined yet whether we will discuss criminal charges with the district attorney's office," said Downey Police Lt. Mike Wheatley. "It seems that the driver might have been temporarily blinded by the sunlight. It doesn't appear that she was speeding."

The accident, at Florence and Wiley Burke avenues, was witnessed by about 15 children and a handful of parents. Jasmine's brother, 13-year-old Edgar Anzo, and Daisy's brother, 12-year-old Jose Castellanos, who walked their sisters to Maude Price Elementary School every morning, also saw the accident.

They rushed to their sisters and tried to comfort them.

The families are next-door neighbors in Bell Gardens, and Jasmine and Daisy were best friends.

"They liked to play video games together," said Edgar, crying. "They liked to trade stickers."

"The girls knew each other about their whole lives," said Javier Covarrubias, 13, a friend of the brothers.

Bette Sanchez, 40, of Downey said Dancy ran a red light, struck the girls, immediately stopped, got out of the car and cried, "Oh my God. I couldn't see the [stoplight] in the sun!"

Dancy had her infant child in the car. Sanchez said she helped watch the baby as a distraught Dancy sat on the curbside for a few minutes with her hands over her face.

Victor Rosales Jr., 27, whose apartment window faces the intersection, said the collision was so loud that he expected to see several damaged cars.

Instead, he saw the crushed front end of Dancy's car and the two young girls sprawled on the pavement. He rushed toward Jasmine.

"I held her hand telling her: 'You have to get up. You have to go to school now,' " Rosales said. "But she wasn't awake. I reached down and took her pulse. It was too late."

Rosales said many drivers speed through the intersection, despite glaring sunlight in the mornings.

"We need a crossing guard there for the kids," he said.

Maude Price Principal Paula Barnes said two Downey Unified School District tragedy counselors were rushed to the school and met with the children all day.

Most of the visitors were fifth-grade classmates of the girls at the 800-student school.

Administrators were also contacting parents to let them know their children may come home distraught.

"We're just trying to handle a tragedy as best we can right now," Barnes said.

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