Car Strikes Youths; 1 Killed, 13 Hurt

Times Staff Writer

A 17-year-old girl was killed and 13 other youngsters were injured Tuesday when a car driven by a high school student went out of control and hit three youngsters in the street, struck a tree and then lurched onto a crowded sidewalk in the El Sereno district near Wilson High School.

Los Angeles Police Officer Danny Roman said the victims were walking home after school when a two-door Honda Civic went out of control at high speed on a steep, curving grade in the 4600 block of East Druid Street.

Roman said streets were rain-slick and the young driver apparently "spun out" when he swerved to miss other students who were in the street.

Roman said the most serious injuries were to a group of girls on the sidewalk who were struck after the car struck a tree.

Two of the girls, he said, were still under the vehicle when it came to rest on the sidewalk, and the driver and his male passenger were aided by neighbors in getting the car off them before ambulance crews arrived.

"It was like a bowling alley," Police Sgt. Burt Crosbie said. "(He) just bowled them over."

Ten of the injured youngsters were released after hospital examination and treatment, but the four more seriously injured girls were taken to County-USC Medical Center. One, identified as Rhonda Chavez, 17, died at 9:51 p.m. The other three were reported in serious but stable condition late Tuesday night

"It looks like a lot of neck, back and leg injuries right now," Crosbie said, "but nobody's been killed."

Roman said the 17-year-old driver of the car, whose name was withheld because he is a juvenile, did not appear to be under the the influence of drugs or liquor. He was questioned by police then released to his parents.

Traces of the accident remained on the street after the victims had been taken away.

A white high-heeled shoe lay in the middle of the street. Its mate had been hurled through the window of a house at 4688 E. Druid St., where Mai Dichirico, 39, said she found it when she came inside. "I opened the door," she said, "and there was this shoe, lying on the floor."

Tony Aguilar, 13, who lives at the same address, said he was on the porch when the accident occurred.

"I heard a bang," he said, "and I looked down and there were a bunch of girls laying all over."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World