Christmas concert crash: Driver may have been using prescriptions, police say

Margo Bronstein, who crashed into Redondo Beach crowd, may have been using prescription drugs, police say

Police believe a driver who plowed into a crowd of people leaving a Christmas concert at a Redondo Beach church, killing three, had prescription drugs in her system.

Three women were killed, a child and an adult were critically injured and seven others were hurt Wednesday night when a car rammed into the group as they left the evening event at St. James Catholic Church.

The car's driver, Margo Bronstein, 56, of Redondo Beach is currently jailed on $300,000 bail and is expected to appear in court Friday. She suffered minor injuries in the incident.

Redondo Beach police Lt. Joe Hoffman said Thursday that investigators believe Bronstein had prescription drugs in her system after evaluating her at the scene, although no medications were found in her car. Police await results from a toxicology report to make a final determination.

According to Department of Motor Vehicles records, Bronstein had a clean driving history. She did, however, have specific driving restrictions, including having to use hand-controlled brakes. She also was required to drive a vehicle with an additional right-side mirror.

On her Facebook account, Bronstein posted several photographs of herself on Tuesday at Disneyland, where she celebrated her birthday. She is pictured sitting on a motorized wheelchair.

Dulce Mojarro, 34, of Hesperia, met Bronstein at the "Aladdin" show held at Disneyland two years ago.

“She was like a big kid, a bit goofy, but a fun person to be around with,”  Mojarro said.  “She loves taking pictures.”

She said the pair often met at Disneyland at least three times a week. They had talked about meeting up again Thursday.

When Mojarro learned about the crash and that Bronstein may have been under the influence of prescription drugs, she was shocked.

“I’ve never seen her take any medication,” Mojarro said, adding that she’s spent more than eight hours with Bronstein at times. “I’m just praying that something else happened.” 

According to Bronstein’s Facebook account, she is originally from Chicago but now lives in Redondo Beach.

“She's so conscientious because of her handicap," said Vanecia Wiley, community property manager of Seaside Villas, where Bronstein lives. "She's just very conscious of everything.

"She doesn't want to be in anyone's way," she said.

Bronstein often called Wiley when she took medication and to let her know she'd be in the apartment and would be staying in.

"She did mention to me about her medication, but she's very careful to make sure when she does that, she's here," Wiley said.

A neighbor, Linda Rippel, 66, said: "I really don't know her at all other than having interaction with her in the building with my mother. All I know is that she loves anything to do with Disneyland and Mickey Mouse and all of that."

The last video Bronstein posted on Facebook was of an ice-skating Mickey Mouse. She wrote, “Merry Christmas from Mickey and the gang and me!!”

Staff writers Joseph Serna, Tre'vell Anderson and Ruben Vives contributed to this post.

For breaking news, follow @VeronicaRochaLA and @Brittny_Mejia.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

2:43 p.m.: This post was updated with information from Margo Bronstein's friend Dulce Mojarro.

57°