Four people were hospitalized Thursday after a driver allegedly ran a red light in Costa Mesa, triggering a crash that launched one vehicle into the air.
"I saw it go tumble, tumble all over the place," said John Durio of Newport Beach, who was on his way to Bible study with his wife when the car in front of him was hit from the side. "Absolutely, literally flipped in the air."
According to police, Blanca Lopez of Santa Ana was driving a silver Mitsubishi Montero Sport westbound on South Coast Drive at Fairview Road about 10:23 a.m. when she ran the red light and hit a red Ford Explorer SUV.
"Her car flipped in the air, landed on its side," Sonya Mariani of Costa Mesa said of the Explorer's driver. "I thought she was dead. It's a miracle she's not dead. She had her seat belt on."
Mariani said two people pulled the driver from the Explorer, and she appeared shaken up, but not seriously hurt.
The Montero, also an SUV, then hit a Dodge 2500 pickup, seriously damaging its left front end and injuring the driver.
"I lost control. What can I say?" Lopez said.
Witnesses and police said the light was green for northbound Fairview traffic, but Lopez claims she did not run a red light.
She said she was driving her cousin to her new job after months of unemployment and was in a hurry. There was a third passenger in the car, according to emergency personnel at the scene.
The Dodge 2500 and Explorer drivers were alone and taken to nearby hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. Lopez's two passengers were also taken to hospitals with non-serious injuries.
Lopez refused treatment by firefighters. Police said she would be cited for running the red light.
The intersection's signals were temporarily flipped to flashing red lights so police could steer traffic around the scene.