The American flag flew at half-staff and corporate offices were closed at the C.J. Segerstrom & Sons headquarters Wednesday as the Segerstrom family mourned the death of 7-year-old Corinne Segerstrom, who was killed Tuesday in an accident on a family lima bean field.
The Orange County coroner’s office said Corinne, granddaughter of prominent farmer-developer Harold T. Segerstrom Jr., suffered a “blunt force injury to the head” after falling onto a soft patch of dirt that had just been plowed.
Witnesses said the girl fell off a harvester pulled by a tractor driven by her father. She and five field workers were riding on the harvester behind her father as he worked the field, one witness said, adding that she fell and then was run over by the equipment’s wheels. The field is in the 2000 block of MacArthur Boulevard.
The youngster is the daughter of Theodore Walter Segerstrom, 36, of Irvine, and was visiting him at the family business when the accident occurred. She resided with her mother, Euna Denee Segerstrom, 33, of Lake Forest. Police had earlier reported incorrectly that the girl was 9 and lived in Irvine.
Funeral arrangements were pending. However, services will be “private and confined to the immediate family only,” family spokesman Werner Escher said.
He said the family remained “in shock” but was expected to release a brief statement today.
“There are many, many calls of support,” Escher said. “It’s a shock, it’s a terrible accident. It happened to a youngster, a person that had her life in front of her.”
The girl’s grandfather and his cousin, Henry T. Segerstrom, have extensive business, agricultural and political interests in the county. They developed South Coast Plaza and the surrounding retail and office parks in the area bordering Santa Ana and Costa Mesa.
The Santa Ana Police Department refused to release further details of the accident that occurred on the farm owned by the family, stating they were not required to disclose the information because the accident occurred on private property.
A spokesman for the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration said there are state laws governing the use of agricultural equipment, such as seat-belt requirements. However, investigations of such accidents are not required unless the victim was an employee or a complaint is filed, Cal-OSHA spokesman Richard Stephens said.
Accidents similar to the Segerstrom case are unusual, Stephens said.
During 1991, the most recent year for which statistics are available, there were 112 “non-fatality” accidents in California involving agricultural equipment, out of about 405,000 industrial accidents reported that year. He said there is no information on the number of fatalities.
Meanwhile, at Glen Yermo Elementary in Mission Viejo, where Corinne was preparing to enter the third grade, the blond-haired youngster was remembered as a “well-rounded” student with a vivacious personality.
As a second-grader, school officials said, she had shown strong interests in art, dancing and writing.
Corinne and her sister, Rayell, who will be a fourth-grader, were avid writers, Principal Susan Navarro said, adding that the girls were known to write stories during their weekly computer lab sessions. “Corinne would always write stories to her sister, and then when her sister came in, she would write back.”
Charlene Paisner, Corinne’s second-grade teacher, said the girl was a “fun, happy child.”
“Her classmates enjoyed her and liked her,” she said.
Navarro described a large quilt that was stitched together by Corinne and her second-grade classmates, using fabric swatches contributed by the class.
“She participated in everything,” Navarro said. “She was a great second-grader.”
Times correspondents Shelby Grad and Geoff Boucher contributed to this report.