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Poll Worker Dies in Crash on 101 Freeway

June 03, 1998|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT

VENTURA — A temporary Ventura County elections worker was killed Tuesday night after the car he was riding in slid off the Ventura Freeway, rolled down a 30-foot embankment and flipped, fire officials said.

Ventura resident Juan A. Lopez, 28, died shortly after arriving at Ventura County Medical Center, according to the California Highway Patrol. Lopez had been transported by ambulance after the 5:54 p.m. crash, officers said.

Lopez had been on a dinner break from his job at election headquarters at the Ventura County Government Center, county officials said. Voters went to the polls until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Elections chief Bruce Bradley was saddened by the news, which had cast a pall in the normal bustling room at the government center.

"He had been working since 5 a.m. this morning packing ballot boxes and other things in the warehouse," Bradley said. "We give them a two-hour dinner between 5 and 7 since they'll be working until 1 a.m. Juan never came back. . . . "

Lopez's family was notified of the crash and funeral arrangements were pending.

The car's driver, an 18-year-old woman, and a second passenger, a 17-year-old girl, were being treated for cuts, scrapes and neck pain at Ventura County Medical Center, said Ventura Fire Capt. Don McPherson.

The 18-year-old was apparently driving Lopez's black Toyota Camry when the crash occurred in the northbound lanes of the freeway south of Seaward Avenue, the CHP said.

A witness said it appeared the driver may have overreacted after a truck pulling a trailer veered slightly into her lane. The car slid 30 feet off the freeway and came to rest overturned on top of a chain-link fence.

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