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Passenger flees wreck, leaving part of his scalp behind

Police say the injured rider helped pull the driver, a badly hurt 16-year-old Santa Ana girl, to safety before he ran from the scene.

June 10, 2007|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

Costa Mesa police are looking for a passenger who left part of his scalp inside a van that collided with a truck early Saturday.

Lt. Dale Birney said the male passenger fled after he and a female passenger pulled the unconscious driver to safety from a Chrysler van in which they had been riding.

The driver, a 16-year-old Santa Ana girl, was taken to Western Medical Center-Santa Ana with life-threatening injuries, Birney said.

Her name was not released because of her age.

Birney said the teenager was driving under the influence at high speed when the van clipped a truck going in the same direction on Sunflower Avenue near Harbor Boulevard.

The truck's fuel tank ruptured, causing a fire that was quickly extinguished. The driver of the truck was not injured in the 2:32 a.m. incident, Birney said.

According to police, a 22-year-old woman riding in the back of the van suffered minor burns.

The woman, also a Santa Ana resident, was not identified.

She remained at the scene, but not the male who was in the front passenger seat.

"He ran away, leaving part of his scalp inside," Birney said. "Right now the driver is facing a misdemeanor DUI charge because the injuries to the female passenger were minor."

That could change if the missing scalp owner is found, he said.

"If a passenger suffers a serious injury when you're driving under the influence and crash," Birney said, "that can result in a felony. Losing part of your scalp qualifies as a serious injury."

Hospital officials declined to report the teenage driver's condition.

hgreza@latimes.com

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