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Passenger Falls From Van on Freeway, Is Killed

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A passenger who tumbled from a van as it drove on the Santa Monica Freeway early Sunday was killed after he was struck several times by passing vehicles while his wife watched helplessly through the rear-view mirror, authorities said.

Ismael Quinones, 43, of Los Angeles was apparently asleep in the front passenger seat of the 1989 Dodge Caravan about 1:30 a.m. as his wife drove west at about 55 m.p.h. onto the freeway, Interstate 10, from the Pomona Freeway, the California Highway Patrol said.

“He apparently fell asleep and jarred the door open,” Officer Sherry Noel said. “And he just fell right out onto the rightmost lane in the middle of traffic.”

Noel said Quinones’ wife, Carmen, saw her husband stand up and stumble several feet before being hit by several passing cars. Heavy traffic, however, made it impossible for her to stop the van to assist him.

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“He got up, which surprised me, so he wasn’t killed by the fall,” Noel said. “She couldn’t stop. The only thing she could do was watch through the rear-view mirror. She saw the whole thing.”

The woman drove to Parker Center, the downtown Los Angeles police headquarters, where she sought help.

“Officers couldn’t get much information out of her,” Noel said. “She was in pretty bad shape emotionally. You’d be hysterical too if you just saw your husband mowed down on the freeway.”

Officers found Quinones’ body in the right, or slow, lane.

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Noel said none of the cars that struck Quinones remained at the scene.

“The first car didn’t stop,” she said. “But who knows how dark it was out there. Maybe people didn’t know it was a human being they were hitting. Or maybe they were just scared.”

The CHP said the fatality was the third in the last two weeks in which passengers apparently fell from moving vehicles on the Los Angeles-area freeway system.

The body of a 30-year-old man was found May 13 in the southbound lanes of the Hollywood Freeway near downtown Los Angeles after he apparently fell from a passing car.

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On May 8, a 30-year-old woman reportedly fell from the back of a motorcycle on the Santa Monica Freeway, also near downtown.


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