Rock Attack on Freeway Injures 4

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Four drivers were injured and 15 to 20 vehicles were damaged in what law enforcement officials described Tuesday as the worst random rock attack on a Southern California freeway in recent memory.

For a few minutes Monday night along the southbound San Diego Freeway in Torrance, baseball- to bowling ball-size chunks of concrete were thrown from a construction site in the median onto cars, the California Highway Patrol said.

The most serious injury occurred when a 10-pound chunk of concrete smashed the windshield of a vehicle driven by 55-year-old Ali Reshamwalla of Tustin. Reshamwalla was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and was listed in critical condition Tuesday with severe head injuries.

Three others suffered minor to moderate injuries when their vehicles were struck, authorities said.

The CHP closed the freeway for several minutes after the attack to clear away damaged cars and chunks of concrete.

"I've never seen anything of this magnitude or of this volume," CHP Officer Todd Sturges said. "It's amazing so many cars were struck in so short a period of time."

Sturges said the CHP received its first report of the attack between the Artesia and Crenshaw Boulevard exits of the freeway about 9 p.m.

Police helicopter crews searched the area for 90 minutes after the attack, but found no suspects.

"We are investigating this very vigorously at this point," Sturges said Tuesday. "We're treating this as a very violent and atrocious felony."

Sturges said that serious freeway rock attacks rarely occur on Southern California freeways--perhaps one or two a year.

But even in a town jaded by freeway gunfights, 100-mile chases and flaming cars by the side of the road, they are still a terrifying occurrence.

"The motorist is completely helpless," Sturges said. "At 65 (m.p.h.), you've gone 71 feet before you even react. You're kind of like a sitting duck."

Last year a man was hospitalized after a bowling ball was dropped on his car from a Harbor Freeway overpass.

A 35-year-old driver was killed two years ago when an unidentified object crashed through the windshield of his van and struck him in the forehead.

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