A reporter covering the O.J. Simpson trial for the Philadelphia Inquirer was among those killed Friday when their Volkswagen van collided with a Volvo on Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica.
Robin Clark, 40, a national correspondent based in Los Angeles for the Philadelphia paper, his cousin Nicole Weaver, 40, and her friend, Melissa Penn, 40, died in the accident, according to Lt. Tom Schwabe of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
The Volkswagen van and a Mercedes-Benz were both northbound near the 1200 block of PCH about 1:20 p.m. when they made contact with each other, sending the Volkswagen flipping over into oncoming southbound traffic, Santa Monica Police Sgt. Russ Martin said.
A southbound Volvo struck the roof of the van, and the Volkswagen rolled over the roof of the Volvo, ejecting the three passengers, Martin said. Two people in the Volvo suffered minor injuries.
Clark was a popular member of the tight-knit press corps covering the Simpson trial.
Joseph Bosco, who is writing a book about the trial and was a friend of Clark, remembered him as a talented writer. “He was the greatest wordsmith I know. He could write rings around all of us,” said Bosco.
Weaver and Penn were visiting from the East Coast, and Clark was enjoying showing them around Judge Lance A. Ito’s courtroom Friday morning, said Shirley Perlman, a reporter covering the trial for Newsday. Clark gave his seat in the courtroom to Penn while he and Weaver watched on the monitor in the courthouse newsroom. Weaver was excited that her friend might be seen on national television.
Friends said Clark cherished his old Volkswagen van, which he had restored to mint condition. Before starting his assignment in Los Angeles about three years ago, he drove around the country in the van for six months, exploring small towns and writing songs that he played on his guitar, said Fran Dauth, assistant managing editor at the Inquirer.
Perlman said Clark was planning to sell the van.
Before coming to Los Angeles, Clark covered City Hall in Philadelphia for the paper and had worked for the San Francisco Examiner, Dauth said.