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Orange County

Crash That Kills 3 Is Among 4 Fatal Smash-Ups

November 11, 2001|TINA BORGATTA and JACK LEONARD | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Six people were killed in four traffic accidents in Orange County on Friday night and Saturday morning, with three dying in a fiery crash just before midnight on Interstate 5 north of Ortega Highway.

The three-death accident occurred in San Juan Capistrano about 11:45 p.m. Friday when a van stopped without its lights on in the fast lane, the California Highway Patrol said.

Officials said it was unclear why the van, which had a driver and two passengers, stopped, but it was soon struck by a pickup traveling about 70 mph. The van "instantly burst into flames," officials said.

All three people in the van were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the pickup was taken to Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo with minor injuries.

Orange County coroner's officials said it will take at least several days to identify the dead.

Shortly before 7:30 p.m. Friday, a motorcyclist was fatally injured in a crash with a hit-and-run vehicle in an unincorporated area near Westminster.

Trong Nguyen, 24, was riding his motorcycle on Beach Boulevard when an oncoming red sedan made a sudden left turn in front of him, CHP officials said. Nguyen braked and his bike fell from beneath him. He then slid and smashed head-first into the side of the sedan, officials said.

The sedan's driver, who had one passenger, stopped in the entrance to a nearby shopping mall north of McFadden Avenue but fled before police arrived, CHP officials said.

Nguyen was taken to Huntington Beach Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:14 p.m.

Authorities urged the occupants of the sedan and any witnesses to contact investigators at the CHP's Westminster office.

Another motorcyclist was struck and killed by a car shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday morning when she tried to cross several lanes of traffic to get off Interstate 5 near Lake Forest Drive. Susan Devoe, 52, of Huntington Beach was pronounced dead at the scene.

In a fourth fatal accident, the driver of a Honda Civic, who CHP officials said had been drinking, hit the center divider on the Orange Freeway in Brea about 2 a.m., causing a three-car pileup that left a Ford Mustang in flames and its driver dead.

The Honda driver was traveling south about 100 mph when she struck the center divider.

The car continued down the freeway about 500 feet. The Mustang plowed into it, then was struck by a Volkswagen Jetta, officials said.

The Mustang burst into flames and its driver died, officials said. The drivers of the Honda and Volkswagen sustained minor injuries.

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