Local News in Brief : El Toro : Mother Dies, Baby Saved as Car Hits Ditch, Burns

A 24-year-old woman was killed but her 7 1/2-month-old baby was not injured when their car, containing four people, drifted into an irrigation ditch near the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station and burst into flames, authorities said Sunday.

Two other occupants of the car--including the woman’s husband--remained hospitalized Sunday.

The California Highway Patrol said the car, driven by Rodney Cook, 20, of the military base was eastbound on Sand Canyon Avenue, east of Trabuco Road, when he fell asleep at the wheel about 11:55 p.m. Saturday.

The car drifted off the road into an irrigation ditch and caught fire, dispatcher Joe David said.


Cook and Anthony Topp, 21, of the base, escaped the car with the baby, Brandon Cook, while Cook’s wife, April, 24, was trapped, a dispatcher said.

The El Toro Marine Corps Air Station’s fire department put out the fire. It was unclear whether the survivors were rescued by the firefighters or whether they got out themselves.

April Cook was pronounced dead at UCI Medical Center, the coroner’s office said.

The baby was strapped in a baby car seat and was not injured, the CHP said. Rodney Cook was listed in stable condition Sunday at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where he was scheduled to undergo surgery for a broken jaw, a spokeswoman said. Topp was listed in serious condition.


Lt. Gene Brown, spokesman for the El Toro base, said that Rodney Cook and Topp are lance corporals and that April Cook was not in the service. Topp had recently transferred to El Toro, he said.