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Garden Grove Crash : 3 Die in Car Chase After Routine Stop

Times Staff Writer

Three people were killed early Friday after a motorist whom police stopped for a minor traffic violation sped away and smashed into another car in Garden Grove, police said.

“I could hear him coming flat out. He never hit the brakes and just ran the red light,” said Bill Simpson, a passerby who witnessed the 4 a.m. accident. “The noise was horrendous. You knew no one was going to make it alive.”

The motorist and the occupants in the second car--Jeffrey Allen Macera, 24, of Garden Grove, the driver, and Gilma Hinojoza, 32, of Santa Ana--were all declared dead at the scene, police said.

The motorist was pulled over minutes earlier for an unidentified “vehicle code violation” on Garden Grove Boulevard near Brookhurst Street, Police Lt. Ron Wiegand said. But instead of stopping, the man suddenly sped away.

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A spokesman for the county coroner’s office said late Friday that the driver’s identity was being withheld while authorities notify relatives of the 33-year-old man.

With police in pursuit, the driver raced east on Garden Grove Boulevard at speeds that reached 100 m.p.h. before running a red light a mile away at Euclid Avenue, Wiegand said.

His blue Chevrolet struck the intersection median, then a signal pole, then smashed into a brown Pontiac, said Simpson, who was standing outside the nearby gas station he manages.

Police said the Pontiac was northbound on Euclid and had apparently just entered the intersection on a green light. The Pontiac was knocked 20 feet backward up onto the curb, witnesses said.

The signal pole toppled, slicing the Chevrolet in half, Simpson said.

“It just ripped the inside of the car totally out,” said Betty Smith, a cashier at Colombo’s Cafe & Bakery No. 2, who saw the wreck scene when she arrived at work at 6 a.m.

“It looked like a bomb had exploded,” Wiegand said.

He said police only wanted to stop the man for a traffic violation. “As far as the driver’s background, we don’t know anything else,” he said.

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Officials have not yet determined whether the man who caused the accident was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Wiegand added.


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