Six teen-agers were seriously injured Tuesday when their car, reportedly going more than 100 m.p.h., swerved across the San Diego Freeway, hit a call box and flew off an embankment, landing 75 feet below, authorities said.
The driver did not have a license and was possibly intoxicated, California Highway Patrol Officer Lyle Whitten said. The car he was reportedly driving was listed as stolen from Long Beach.
Names of the driver and the passengers were not released because of their ages, which ranged from 12 to possibly 18, Whitten said. All six were believed to be gang members from Long Beach. None had identification and none wore seat belts, he said.
"It was very fortunate there was light traffic and they didn't hit anyone else," Whitten said. "It's also fortunate nobody has died, but one of them is in very critical condition, so we don't know yet."
They sustained broken ribs and jaws, fractured skulls and other major head and face injuries when they were bounced around in the car during the crash, officials said. Two were treated at UCI Medical Center in Orange and the rest at Humana Hospitals in Huntington Beach and Westminster. All were still in the hospitals by Tuesday afternoon.
Authorities plan to book the youths on suspicion of possession of a stolen car. The driver will also be booked on suspicion of driving under the influence, driving without a license and assault of a peace officer, officials said. The eldest suspect hit an officer in the jaw after he was taken to Humana Hospital-Westminster, Whitten said.
Witnesses told investigators that the car had been speeding south in the fast lane when the driver lost control about 1 a.m. north of Beach Boulevard and swerved to the embankment. After hitting the call box, the car rolled down the hill and landed near a rental storage facility on McFadden Avenue near the Westminster border, officials said.
No one else was hurt, authorities said.