SIMI VALLEY — A woman trying to avoid hitting a slow-moving vehicle on the Ronald Reagan Freeway lost control of her car Friday, careened across the center divider and slammed head-on into a pickup truck carrying a family of four, authorities said.
Four people were injured in the 5:55 p.m. collision on the westbound lanes of the freeway between 1st Street and Madera Road.
A brother and sister, ages 4 and 5, and the woman were taken to two hospitals, said California Highway Patrol Officer Keith Bianco. The children's father, who was driving the truck, suffered minor cuts. The children's mother was uninjured. All four truck riders were wearing seat belts.
The collision destroyed the front ends of both vehicles, said Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Rick Bell.
The crash caused the closure of all westbound lanes as police prepared for the freeway landing of a helicopter dispatched to transport the wounded. The chopper was called off en route.
Simi Valley Police Sgt. Ron Chambers, one of a dozen police and rescue workers on the scene, said the crash caused a two-mile backup for westbound drivers as traffic was routed off at 1st Street. Westbound lanes reopened at 6:40 p.m.
Louise Halpin, 62, who was driving a blue Buick Riviera, was in critical condition with abdominal injuries at Simi Valley Adventist Hospital, a nursing supervisor said. Halpin of Simi Valley was admitted late Friday night to the intensive-care unit.
The injured 5-year-old girl was transported along with her 28-year-old father, Ronny Martin, to Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks. Bell said the girl was suffering from serious head, neck and back injuries.
Ventura County Fire Capt. Jerry Garner, who treated the girl's brother, said the boy suffered a moderate head injury and was taken with his mother, Julie Martin, to Los Robles.
A Los Robles nursing supervisor said the children and their father, who are from Simi Valley, were being treated in the emergency room but she would not release their conditions.
According to the CHP, Halpin was driving about 60 mph when she swerved to avoid hitting a car that was traveling slowly in front of her. Halpin reportedly overcorrected, swerving her car back and forth and then over the center divider. Bianco said alcohol was not believed to be a factor.
A third vehicle, a van driven by an unidentified man, struck the truck after the head-on collision, Bianco said. That driver was uninjured.