1 Killed, 3 Injured on Freeway as Car Hits Vehicle on Shoulder

Times Staff Writer

One person was killed and three, including a California Highway Patrol officer, were injured Monday night when a car swerved out of traffic lanes on the northbound San Diego Freeway in Seal Beach, then struck and flipped over a car stopped on the shoulder, authorities said.

All northbound traffic lanes were closed just west of the interchange of the Garden Grove Freeway following the 7:50 p.m. accident to allow a rescue helicopter to land and airlift the critically injured driver of the car that swerved off the road, identified as 41-year-old James Michael Smith of Long Beach, to Memorial Medical Center in Long Beach. Smith was placed under arrest on suspicion of felony manslaughter and drunk driving.

The name of the dead man, a passenger in the back seat of the stopped car, was not released pending notification of family.

CHP Officer Darrell Brooks, 29, was reported in fair condition with a broken arm at Los Alamitos General Hospital, and two women in the parked car were reported in serious condition with unspecified injuries, nursing supervisor Lindy Beck said.

According to CHP spokesman Kevin Dougherty, Brooks had stopped a 1975 Mercedes driven by Margie L. Hamilton of Hollywood for a traffic citation. Seated in the front passenger side of Hamilton's car was Marinka Hlad, a German citizen.

As Brooks handed his citation book to Hamilton, Dougherty said the car driven by Smith swerved out of traffic lanes and onto the shoulder, striking the left rear of the Mercedes. Dougherty said her car spun around, striking Brooks before it flipped and overturned.

Dougherty said Smith was in critical but stable condition with facial and head injuries and possible internal injuries.

All but the right two freeway lanes were reopened to traffic at 8:26 p.m., Dougherty said.

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