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Two women killed in 110 Freeway crash were celebrating a birthday

November 04, 2013|By Samantha Schaefer

Five women involved in a single-car crash early Sunday that killed two of them were out celebrating the upcoming birthday of one of the passengers.

The crash occurred around 1:35 a.m. Sunday when the 2011 Nissan Sentra, which was traveling north on the 110 Freeway, hit a tree and a chain-link fence near Avenue 52, said California Highway Patrol officer Monica Posada.

Firefighters responding to the crash used hydraulic prying tools to rescue one or more of the victims from the car, which was badly damaged, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey.

The driver, a 22-year-old resident of San Gabriel, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, said CHP officer Jennifer Cassidy.

Two of the passengers “were beyond help” and pronounced dead at the scene, Humphrey said. They were identified as Blanca Belman Almanza, 23, and Ana Cuadra, 22, both of Los Angeles, according to Lt. Cheryl MacWillie of the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

The other three women, including the driver, were taken to area hospitals, according to the CHP.

The women were celebrating Cuadra’s upcoming 23rd birthday, CBSLA reported. Her mother, Marlena Cuadra, told the station that Belman Almanza and her daughter were best friends.

“I understand that God gave me her, he took her away,” she said of her daughter. “He will give me strength.”

She said her daughter, who left behind a 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, didn’t like taking the 110 Freeway.

“And now I know why,” she told the station.

All northbound lanes on the freeway were closed near the crash site at 1:50 a.m. and reopened by 5:12 a.m., Posada said.

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Twitter: @Sam_Schaefer

Samantha.Schaefer@latimes.com

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