Three children died in a horrific crash on the I-5 in Mission Viejo Friday afternoon after a big-rig rammed into the minivan they were traveling in, according to a news report in The Orange County Register.
The three children Katie, 2, Kyle, 5, and Emma, 4, were traveling in car seats and booster seats in the back of a Chrysler Town & Country minivan with their mother driving the vehicle and their grandmother riding in the front seat, the article said.
The black-and-white big-rig came up behind the minivan at 55 and 60 mph, according to what the rig driver later told California Highway Patrol investigators. Packed with electronics, the big-rig didn’t stop and slammed into the back of the minivan, driving through the backseat of the Chrysler where the children were sitting. The semi drove through the back of the minivan, crushing it and pushing it into a Chevy Tahoe that was stopped ahead, CHP officer Katrina Lundgren told reporters.
Friday afternoon traffic had slowed to a crawl near Oso Parkway. The silver Chrysler minivan was stopped in the slow lane as the cars headed south stacked up. Andy Tran, a blinds installer from Santa Ana, tried to use his tools to get the children out of their mangled car seats, but couldn’t, the article said.
Katie and Kyle were rushed to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo and Emma was taken to Saddleback Memorial Hospital in Laguna Hills. The two girls died within minutes of each other. Kyle was rushed into surgery, but could not be saved and died later that evening.
The children’s mother, Lori Coble and grandmother Cynthia Maestri were also rushed to the hospital. Both were reportedly critically injured, but are said to be in stable condition.
“I’ve seen a lot of accidents, but this is the worst one I’ve ever seen,” Tran said. “Just seeing the kids. I can’t forget it.”
The driver of the Tahoe, Jack H. Sweet, 48, of Mission Viejo, was taken to Mission with minor injuries. The Register report states that in the nearly 3-mile stretch between Crown Valley Parkway and La Paz Road, there have been 2,281 accidents and five fatalities in the past 10 years, according to CHP records. CHP investigators spent hours questioning the driver, Jorge Miguel Romero, 37, of Apple Valley, who said he saw the traffic backed up, applied the brakes but couldn’t stop in time. Fontana-based leasing company Aurora TRL, which owns the truck, did not comment.
What a nightmarish time for this family and for the parents of these three precious children! There are a lot of questions that remain to be answered in this incident. Exactly why could the driver not stop? Were his brakes not working? Was fatigue a factor? Was the load oversized?
At Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys we have handled big-rig and truck accidents for numerous clients and won millions for them. Like other California drivers, operators of big-rigs are required to obey driving laws and if they choose to disobey these laws, they must be held accountable for any injury that their negligence has caused.
If you have been injured or have lost a loved one as a result of a big-rig accident, call us for a free consultation at 800-259-6373. You need the advice of an experienced California personal injury lawyer.