Redondo Beach police are investigating whether road rage triggered an accident that left a high school student dead and her boyfriend, the son of a former Manhattan Beach mayor, seriously injured.
Authorities are looking for the driver of a black pickup truck seen near the BMW sedan driven by Casie Hyde, 16, just before Hyde's car smashed into a utility pole on Manhattan Beach Boulevard last Friday night. The two vehicles did not collide, police said.
A witness told investigators that the pickup may have made an aggressive maneuver that forced the BMW off the road.
"We are asking the pickup truck's driver to come forward and provide a statement as to what happened," said Sgt. Mike Adye, who is overseeing the investigation.
"We want to talk to that person more as a witness than anything else at this point," Adye said.
Hyde was a junior at Mira Costa High School. Her 19-year-old boyfriend, Michael Archuletta, had graduated from Mira Costa and had been a well-known athlete on campus.
Archuletta remained hospitalized Wednesday after undergoing surgery to repair internal injuries, including a collapsed lung and torn diaphragm. His father is Gil Archuletta, who was on the Manhattan Beach City Council from 1984 to 1992 and was mayor from 1985 to 1986.
Two people waiting for a stoplight at Manhattan Beach and Inglewood boulevards about 10:45 p.m. saw the BMW swerve out of control, 400 to 500 feet away. One of them saw a black pickup just before the crash and told investigators that road rage might have been involved but did not give a clear reason why, Adye said.
Officers interviewed Archuletta in his hospital bed Sunday. He was under medication and unable to describe the pickup truck's driver or the cause of the crash, Adye said.
He said investigators expected Archuletta to be sufficiently recovered by today to interview him about the crash.
"Mr. Archuletta is probably going to be key to this," Adye said.