Driver Trapped in Wheelchair in Van Killed in Crash

From United Press International

A handicapped driver strapped in a wheelchair in his specially equipped van was killed in a freeway crash when rescuers were unable to release him from his bindings.

The California Highway Patrol blamed the crash on another driver who spilled coffee in her lap and lost control of her car.

The 30-year-old victim, whose name was not immediately released, was trapped inside his van when it was hit by another car on the Santa Ana Freeway shortly after 5 a.m. Friday, overturned and burst into flames, CHP Officer Lecia Elvig said.


An off-duty firefighter and a passing truck driver stopped and tried to pull the man from the burning vehicle, but could not free him from the straps binding him to his wheelchair, Elvig said.

A passenger, Melanie Coyne, 29, was rescued and taken to Santa Marta Hospital with minor injuries.

The driver of the second car, Laura Beth Moses, 39, told investigators she was driving north on the freeway in the slow lane when she spilled hot coffee in her lap and her car drifted onto the shoulder. Moses tried to maneuver back into traffic, but instead crossed over two lanes and hit the van, overturning it, Elvig said.

The CHP said it would seek a criminal complaint charging Moses with vehicular manslaughter.