Driver Sought in Crash That Killed Passenger

From Times Staff Reports

A 19-year-old Simi Valley man died when the car in which he was riding crashed into an embankment off California 23 late Monday night.

Rafael Vasquez-Villalba was pronounced dead at the scene.

Another passenger, Jose Cruz, was taken to Los Robles Regional Medical Center, treated for minor injuries and released.

Two other passengers were not injured.


The driver of the 1992 Toyota Tercel, 18-year-old Jose Santiago Cortez of Simi Valley fled the scene before police arrived, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Steve Reid.

According to witnesses, Cortez lost control of the vehicle while driving south on the highway just south of Janss Road about 11 p.m.

The car swerved off the road and overturned several times down a dirt embankment, Reid said. Vasquez-Villalba, who was not wearing a seat belt, had to be extricated from the vehicle.

Anyone with information about the accident or Cortez’s whereabouts is asked to call the CHP at 477-4160.