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Girl Killed After Car Leaves Road, Slams Into Tree

Northridge: The 4-year-old's mother, who was driving, and sister are critically injured.


A 4-year-old was killed Monday morning when the car her mother was driving veered off a Northridge street and crashed into a pine tree.

The driver, Cornette Hamilton, 24, of Los Angeles and her 1-year-old daughter were critically injured in the crash, which occurred just after 9 a.m. in the 19800 block of Nordhoff Street near Northridge Fashion Center, authorities said.

The 4-year-old suffered massive head trauma and died at the scene, said Brian Humphrey, a Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman.

The 1-year-old was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, and Hamilton was taken to Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

Los Angeles police investigators said inattention or distraction probably caused the accident.

"There are no skid marks to indicate speed or that the driver was avoiding anybody," Sgt. Steven Dell said. "There was no damage to the car other than the intrusion from the tree, which went all the way into the engine compartment."

The 4-year-old was restrained by a seat belt, but it was not properly used, investigators said.

The belt was tucked under her arm rather than across her chest, and she was not in a child safety seat, which may have contributed to her injuries, investigators said.

Los Angeles Times Saturday December 8, 2001 Home Edition Part A Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 2 inches; 42 words Type of Material: Correction
Child safety seats--A story Tuesday in the California section should have said that current law requires children riding in cars to be secured in safety seats until they are both 4 years old and 40 pounds. A new law that takes effect Jan. 1 will require the seats until children are 6 years old or 60 pounds.

Officer Norm Kellems said a new law taking effect Jan. 1 will toughen requirements for the use of child safety seats and boosters from the current 4 years or 40 pounds to 6 years or 60 pounds.

"Autos are designed for adults for our comfort and not for our children, and that's why we have to supplement them with child safety seats and boosters," said Kellems, who is a child-passenger safety instructor.

"The problem is that parents are going by the letter of the law," Kellems added. "They need to go by what is safe for their children."

An investigation into the accident is continuing, LAPD officers said.

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