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2 Caltrans Workers Are Hit by Car, Killed : Accidents: Five-man crew in closed lane was working on freeway bridge near Colton. At least 10 people die over weekend on Southland highways, streets.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two Caltrans workers were killed Sunday when a passing car spun out of control and plowed into a closed lane where the workers were repairing a freeway bridge railing near Colton, officials said.

And a Los Angeles woman en route to a soccer tournament with her family was killed after their stalled car was struck on an Orange County freeway by a van heading for the same sports event and spun into traffic, officials said.

The incidents underscored a bloody weekend on Southern California’s highways and streets: At least 10 people lost their lives in accidents, including three people killed in two high-speed police chases and a couple who died in a street race.

The Caltrans accident happened shortly after 8 a.m. in the right-hand lane of the I-215 bridge near the San Bernardino Freeway, authorities said. One worker died after the impact threw him off the freeway overpass and into the dry Santa Ana riverbed about 100 feet below, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

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A five-member crew had already set up cones to close the lane to traffic and were working alongside two Caltrans trucks, parked about 30 feet apart, when Michele Ann Spears lost control of her car, they said.

Spears’ car made a sharp turn, plunged directly between the parked trucks and struck one employee, hurling him over the bridge and into the riverbed, said CHP and Caltrans spokesmen.

The car then spun and hit the first Caltrans truck, shoving it into a second worker who was standing in front of the vehicle. That employee also died.

The dead Caltrans employees were identified as Michael Alan Magana, 43, of San Bernardino, and Thomas Ortega, 39, of Banning.

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A third Caltrans worker, Dale Melensak, 45, of Rialto, was treated and released Sunday, said Caltrans spokeswoman Irene Coyazo.

Spears, 25, was reported in critical condition Sunday with massive internal and head injuries.

Coyazo said Sunday’s deaths bring to three the number of Caltrans workers killed in California this year. Since the department began keeping statistics in 1924, 145 Caltrans workers have died while on the job, she said.

In Sunday’s crash on the San Diego Freeway, Miriam Lima, 36, of Los Angeles, was traveling with her family to a soccer tournament in Irvine when their Toyota Celica stalled in the carpool lane, said Ron Satterfield, Fountain Valley fire battalion chief.

Lima’s husband restarted the car and switched on the emergency flashers, but the car was rear-ended by a Plymouth Voyager carrying a Palos Verdes family to the same tournament, according to the CHP.

The Toyota spun across several lanes and was rammed by two cars. Mrs. Lima was killed, one son was critically injured and eight others were hurt.

Three people lost their lives in high-speed police chases within a 24-hour period this weekend.

Robert Owen Williams, 35, of Pasadena died when he slammed his car into a brick wall near the Ambassador Hotel after a 15-minute, high-speed chase. Also killed was passenger Marcus Jones, 39, of Altadena.

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Los Angeles police said they stopped Williams about 1 a.m. for a traffic violation, but he sped away. After a short chase, Williams’ car slammed into the wall, a coroner’s investigator said.

Less than 24 hours earlier, a 20-year-old Fontana woman, Rosalba Juarez, was killed during a police chase, when an alleged drunk driver slammed head-on into the pickup truck she was riding in. The truck’s driver, her uncle, was injured, as were six teen-agers in the car of the alleged drunk driver.

Police said that chase began about 2:15 a.m. Saturday when Andre Madison, 20, made a U-turn in a stolen car, apparently to avoid a drunk driving checkpoint in Pomona. That prompted a 13-mile police chase that ended with the collision in Hacienda Heights.

Madison was in serious condition and facing various charges, Pomona police said.

Meanwhile, a Chatsworth couple lost their lives when their car veered into oncoming traffic during what witnesses said was a race with another car near Warner Center, Los Angeles police said.

The 36-year-old man and his 30-year-old wife died when the sports car struck a third vehicle, a pickup truck. The other speeding car drove off, officials said.

The family in the Toyota pick-up was hospitalized: Jorge Aquino, 33, of the mid-Wilshire area, was listed in stable condition Sunday; his 31-year-old wife, Maria, was in serious condition, and their 4-year-old son, Brian, was listed in fair condition.

Two men were killed Sunday in freeway crashes at opposite ends of Los Angeles County.

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The CHP said Marcelo Paul, 21, of South Gate, was a passenger in a car that went out of control and crashed into a center divider on the Long Beach Freeway in Compton. Paul was thrown from the car, officials said.

And an alleged drunk driver died in Sylmar when his car leaped up an embankment, hit a light pole, and bounced back into traffic where it was struck by a big rig truck, according to the CHP. Jose Arizaga, 22, of Carson, was pronounced dead at the scene.


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