A 4-year-old girl was killed and six other people, all relatives, were injured Monday afternoon when their speeding van slammed into a slow-moving Caltrans truck on a freeway in Carson, authorities said.
“An 8-month-old baby girl dropped to the floor, and the driver took her hands off the wheel to reach down and pick the baby up and rammed right into the Caltrans truck, without even getting a chance to put on the brakes,” Los Angeles County Firefighter-Paramedic Kerry Yim said.
The van struck the truck at an estimated 70 m.p.h. on the northbound Harbor Freeway, near 220th Street, California Highway Patrol investigators said.
The 4-year-old girl, who was dead on arrival at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, had been sitting with the baby next to the driver, Yim said.
The 17-year-old girl driving the van was transporting her six nieces and nephews, ranging in age from the infant to 13, investigators said. All are from Los Angeles.
It took 10 firefighters working with the Jaws of Life half an hour to extricate the driver, who was pinned between the steering wheel and the seat, Yim said. The driver suffered a serious leg injury and a possible concussion, he said.
Four of the children were seriously injured, three of them suffering broken legs and the fourth a concussion. One suffered a minor injury.
“If you can believe it, all of the seat belts were detached and stored under the back seat, and there was no sign of (child) safety seats,” CHP Officer Bob Weaver said.
“Had they been wearing seat belts or sitting in safety seats, the little girl would still be alive and all of her brothers and sisters would have walked away,” Yim said.
CHP officials would not release the children’s names pending notification of relatives. CHP Officer Andy Gutierrez said an investigation was under way to determine the possibility of filing criminal charges against the driver.