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Car's deadly plunge into harbor investigated as accident

Fatal harbor crash investigated as accident; 1 boy dead, 1 in grave condition

Investigators are looking into a crash that left a 13-year-old boy dead and an 8-year-old boy in grave condition after their family car plunged into the San Pedro harbor.

LAPD Officer Norma Eisenman said Friday that the crash was being considered an accident until it's determined otherwise.

The 13-year-old boy, El Hassan El Mezayen of Los Angeles, died at a local hospital Thursday night, according to Craig Harvey, a Los Angeles County coroner’s spokesman.

A witness told KABC-TV that the boys and their parents left from a parking lot at Ports O’ Call Village, a shopping and restaurant center, in their car. The vehicle traveled some distance before it fell into the water, landing upside down, at about 6:10 p.m. Thursday.

The area has been used by fisherman for 100 years, a Port of Los Angeles spokeswoman said. Vehicles can easily access the area because there are no barriers.

The boys were trapped in the vehicle about 30 feet underwater off Berth 73 after the crash, said Deputy Chief Daren Palacios of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The boys’ parents escaped the submerged vehicle, but the children were still inside. Witnesses say the parents screamed for help, yelling that their children were trapped. 

Divers jumped into the harbor but had a hard time rescuing one of the boys because the water was murky, Palacios said. Eventually, they were able to pull both boys from the vehicle.

The children were not breathing and CPR was performed.

TV news footage from the scene showed the boys’ parents struggling with firefighters to get to their children.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles city firefighter Miguel Meza was lauded as a hero after diving into the water to help rescue the family.

Meza was the first emergency responder to arrive at the scene. He immediately removed his emergency gear, jumped into the water and led the boys' parents to a nearby ladder, fire officials said.

"LAFD firefighters' thoughts remain with the family involved in yesterday’s most tragic accident,” fire department spokesman Erik Scott said Friday. “That incident attests to the variety of difficult calls first responders go on daily."

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino posted a photograph of the emotional firefighter on Facebook.

“This man is a true #hero in the City of Angels and I am so proud of him,” the councilman wrote.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

12:50 p.m.: This article has been updated with the 13-year-old boy's name.

10:40 a.m.: This article has been updated with details about the car's position in the water and the pier's use as a fishing spot.

9:30 a.m.: This article has been updated with a police statement that the incident was being investigated as an accident.

This article was originally published at 7:14 a.m.

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