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Ventura County

1 Dead, 2 Hurt in Car Crash

July 31, 2001

A 2-year-old Fillmore girl was killed and her mother and brother seriously injured when their car was crushed by a dump truck Monday on California 126, police said.

Authorities believe Maria Bernal, 30, was cut off by another driver while traveling east on the highway about 4:45 p.m. near 10th Street in Santa Paula, said California Highway Patrol Officer Dave Webb.

Bernal swerved to the shoulder and then over-corrected, shot through a row of oleander bushes in the center divider and into the path of the dump truck, which was headed west, authorities said.

The driver of the car that allegedly cut Bernal off realized a crash had occurred, so she drove to the Ventura County sheriff's station in Fillmore, where she was being questioned Monday night, authorities said.

Bernal's Honda Accord rolled several times before coming to rest upside-down on a freeway offramp. Bernal and her children were all ejected.

Officers plan to investigate whether child safety seats holding Bernal's children failed.

Bernal was being treated at Santa Paula Memorial Hospital, and her 5-year-old son was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Bernal's daughter died at the Santa Barbara hospital Monday night, Webb said. The children's names were not released.

The dump truck driver, 39-year-old Rito Felix Murillo of Fillmore, who works for CNM Paving in that city, was not injured and will not be cited, Webb said.

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