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fter Crash, Mom 'Suffering So Much'

The Santa Ana woman prays beside the hospital bed of her 15-month-old son, one of four relatives she hit while practicing driving.

March 13, 2003|Zeke Minaya | Times Staff Writer

A Santa Ana mother who lost control of a car and hit four relatives, including her two toddlers, spent Tuesday night crying and praying beside the hospital bed of her seriously injured son, relatives said Wednesday.

Maria Dulce Carmona blames herself for the accident, said her sister Regina Carmona, whose 2-year-old daughter also was injured. "She is suffering so much. Even if she is to blame, I still love her."

Maria, 28, Regina, 33, and their families share the northeast Santa Ana home where the accident occurred. They are married to brothers Efren and Venancio Morales, both construction workers.

"We are a very close family," a distraught Regina Carmona said. "We will continue to be."

The Carmonas' younger sister, Maria's two sons and Regina's daughter were watching her practice driving a brother-in-law's car outside their home in the 2400 block of Ponderosa Street on Tuesday afternoon.

Witnesses told police that about 2:30 p.m., while trying to parallel park, Maria Carmona accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake and hit her sons, 15-month-old Jesus Morales and 2-year-old Ruben Morales, Regina Carmona's daughter Liliana Morales, and the women's younger sister, Irma Carmona, 19.

The four had been sitting on the curb outside the home watching the novice driver get a lesson from Irma's husband, Juan Ibarra.

Regina Carmona said she was sitting at the kitchen table talking to a friend and having lunch when she heard a loud noise outside, and figured her sister had hit another car.

"But then I heard the screams," she said.

From her front door, Regina said she saw Maria kneeling on the sidewalk, her son Jesus cradled in her arms. "She couldn't move, she couldn't talk, she just looked at him," Regina said.

At that instant, she spotted her own daughter lying under the car. "Can you imagine, seeing your family like that?" Regina asked, her eyes tearing.

The four were treated at three area hospitals. Liliana Morales and Irma Carmona were released Wednesday, relatives said.

The most seriously injured was Jesus Morales, who remained at Western Medical Center-Santa Ana with multiple skull fractures, relatives said. Although his condition was said to be improving, family members said tests are pending to determine whether he has suffered any permanent damage. Older brother Ruben Morales, who is nearly 3, was being treated at the same hospital, but relatives said his condition was not as serious. Hospital officials declined to discuss their cases.

Santa Ana police have impounded Ibarra's 1991 Nissan 240 to check for any mechanical defects. They said Maria Carmona had neither a driver's license nor a learner's permit.

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