2 Killed, 6 Injured in Freeway Pileup : Accident: Collision series begins with alleged drunk driver rear-ending truck at high speed, CHP says.


Two women were killed and six other people injured Sunday in a series of collisions on the Santa Ana Freeway that began when an alleged drunk driver slammed into the rear of a pickup truck, the California Highway Patrol said.

The dead were identified as Elizabeth Newman, 35, of Dominguez Hills and Patricia Ann Maglietto, 24, of Studio City.

CHP spokeswoman Soledad Weaver said the chain of events began shortly after 3:50 a.m. in the northbound lanes near the Ball Road off-ramp when the driver of a Ford Mustang allegedly traveling about 100 m.p.h. rear-ended a Ford pickup truck driven by Alfredo Cortez, 51, of Bell.


The driver of the car, identified as Rafael Cruz, 27, of Santa Ana, tried to flee on foot but was seized by police, Weaver said.

Shortly after that collision, Newman, Maglietto and Lori Kitagawa, 19, of La Palma, who were all in a Honda sedan, crashed into the Mustang. The drivers of a Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Thunderbird stopped to assist.

While the driver of the Thunderbird called 911 from her car phone, the three women and the driver of the Camaro stood in the center divider surveying the wreckage.

It was at that point, Weaver said, that Elisa Ortiz, 28, of Los Angeles, driving a Toyota off-road vehicle, slammed into them. Maglietto was killed instantly, Weaver said. Newman was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Ortiz, who is pregnant, was trapped in her vehicle and had to be extracted by emergency crews, Weaver said. She was taken to Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo with minor injuries. Weaver said Ortiz was not cited pending further investigation.

Kitagawa and the driver of the Camaro, identified as Justin Saver, were listed in serious condition at Western Medical Center-Santa Ana. Karen Counsell, 38, of Torrance, who was the driver the Thunderbird, suffered minor injuries and was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange. The extent of Cortez’s injuries were not immediately available.


Cruz, who suffered serious injuries, was taken to Western Medical Center-Santa Ana, where he was listed in fair condition and was being held on suspicion of drunk driving and misdemeanor hit-and-run, Weaver said.

Times staff writer Matt Lait contributed to this report.