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7 Die in Head-On Crashes

The deaths occur in two collisions, both involving drivers in the wrong lane, in Pacoima and Palmdale. Two teens are among the victims.

October 15, 2003|Hector Becerra | Times Staff Writer

Seven people, including two teenage boys, were killed in two separate fiery crashes that involved speeding cars driving in the wrong lane -- one in Pacoima early Tuesday and the other on a rural stretch in Palmdale the night before, authorities said.

Both crashes were being investigated, authorities said.

The first collision occurred about 6:20 p.m. Monday in Palmdale at Avenue O and 117th Street East, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Don Ford.

A 63-year-old woman driving a white 2000 Nissan Maxima carrying her 16-year-old grandson and another 16-year-old boy apparently lost control while heading westbound, causing the car to spin into the eastbound lane and crash head-on into a black 1985 Nissan 300ZX, Ford said. The Maxima burst into flames, authorities said.

Jeannette Harris of Palmdale was killed, along with her grandson Jasiri Austin and the other teenager, whose name was not released, said Craig Harvey of the coroner's office. The two men in the 300ZX, described only as being a 27-year-old and a 23-year-old from Palmdale, were thrown from their car and died, Harvey said.

In the second collision, about 1:25 a.m. Tuesday, the driver of a Honda Accord was headed south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 near the Ronald Reagan Freeway interchange when his car slammed into a Honda Prelude, said Officer John Seumanutafa with the California Highway Patrol. Both cars burst into flames.

The Accord driver was a 32-year-old Los Angeles man, and the Prelude driver was a 28-year-old man from Canyon Country, Seumanutafa said. However, because of the extent of burns to both victims, neither had been positively identified, Harvey said. The Accord may have been going as fast as 90 mph when the crash occurred, authorities said.

A tractor-trailer swerving to avoid the crash rolled over onto the center divider, and the driver suffered minor injuries. Northbound lanes of the freeway were shut down for five hours, reopening at about 6:30 a.m., Seumanutafa said.

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