Pregnant Woman Dies in Freeway Altercation


Carolyn Ray was at home Tuesday night waiting for Karen Mannen and her boyfriend, Jorge Torres, to come over for a visit.

Ray and Mannen had been neighbors for six years in a Nestor trailer park before Ray moved to Chula Vista. Ray still occasionally baby-sat the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Samantha. Mannen and Torres were expecting their second child in about three weeks.

“She was in labor (Tuesday) morning,” Ray said. " . . . When she didn’t show up, I thought she had gone to the hospital to have the baby.”

That night, Mannen and her unborn baby were killed in an auto accident on Interstate 5 in the South Bay, an accident that began after an altercation on the freeway.


Although details are sketchy, the California Highway Patrol says Torres and the driver of a red Nissan pickup or a Pathfinder had some kind of confrontation as both traveled north on the highway from San Ysidro. In the car with Torres, 30, were Mannen, 41; Samantha, and Mannen’s 12-year-old nephew, Jody Britt.

The other driver, described only as a man in his 20s with a mustache, tried to ram Torres’ car three times, CHP Officer Peter Herrera said.

As Torres approached Coronado Avenue, the other car passed on the right. Torres lost control of his car and struck a street sign on the island between the Coronado Avenue off-ramp and I-5.

Torres’ car continued to cross the off-ramp, colliding with a street light. It is not known whether there was any contact between the cars.


Mannen died at the scene. She was not wearing a seat belt, police said. Torres was taken to Sharp Hospital with moderate injuries and released Tuesday night. Samantha and Britt, of Fallbrook, were taken to Children’s Hospital and were listed in good condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The other driver is wanted on suspicion of felony hit-and-run.

Last Sunday, Mannen called her girlhood friend Melinda Lundy in Dallas, and the two talked about her pregnancy. Mannen’s second child was to be named Robert Nicholas after her father and grandfather, Lundy said.

The women were best friends at Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas in the ‘60s. After meeting in a homemaking class, the two were inseparable.


“We were always together,” Lundy said. “We dated each other’s boyfriends and took them away from one another. We had a really good time together.”

Ray, Mannen’s friend in Chula Vista, described her as a “sister,” their relationship was so close. “It’s like a member of my family is gone,” she said.