A car carrier heading southbound on Angeles Crest Highway shortly before 6 p.m. on Wednesday may have lost its brakes, causing a multiple vehicle accident that resulted in two fatalities and 12 injuries, three of them critical.
Marcos Costa, 43, of Massachusetts is being held on $200,000 bail for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station after the semi-truck car carrier he was driving crashed into several vehicles, running over a red sedan killing its two occupants before ending up in the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse building on Foothill.
The dead are Angel Jorge Posca, 58, and his 12-year-old daughter Angelina, both of Palmdale. They had just exited the eastbound Foothill (210) Freeway at Angeles Crest Highway in their red Ford Escort and were starting to turn north on the highway to return to Palmdale when the semi-truck struck their vehicle.
"They were pushed down Angeles Crest," said CV Sheriff's Sgt. Mark Slater.
According to witnesses, the vehicles seemed to fly as the carrier truck plowed down the 'Crest.
The injured parties were transported to area hospitals for treatment, according to Capt. Mike Brown of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
A woman working in the Melody nail salon next door to the bookstore reportedly suffered a broken leg, and a 17-year-old female driver from La Canada was air-lifted to a Los Angeles medical center with a broken femur. Memorial Park served as a temporary helicopter pad for medical transport.
"I offer my sympathies to their families and friends and my deep sorrow for the two persons killed when an apparent runaway truck slammed into a bookstore in our city," Mayor Laura Olhasso said in a prepared statement at the scene of the accident about 4 hours after the accident took place. "We are outraged that our numerous demands to Caltrans to immediately address the significant safety issues of out of control trucks on Angeles Crest Highway were ignored."
The carrier apparently hit a number of vehicles, running over a red sedan, killing its occupants before ending up in the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse at the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and Angeles Crest Highway.
The skies were crowded with helicopters and the air filled with the screams of ambulances Wednesday evening as the California Highway Patrol closed Angeles Crest Highway at the 210 Freeway offramps.
Two customers at Hill Street Café, Polly Jackson and Eileen McGann, were just paying their tab when the accident occurred.
Jackson was looking through the glass windows of the café, facing Angeles Crest Highway, when she looked up and saw the truck "coming down Angeles Crest."
"I heard it at first – it sounded like the brakes had locked," Jackson said. "You could tell that there was no chance that it would stop in time. I just held up my hands and started backing up."
McGann also saw the truck coming. She said that it turned its wheels at the last minute when it reached Foothill Boulevard. "It crashed into the bookstore – it caused a very loud sound," McGann said.
The women were both shaking as they told of how they had planned on going to the bookstore to buy a gift for Eileen’s mother after their meal.
Peter Curiel, who travels over the ’Crest every day to get to work, witnessed the accident as he sat facing eastbound on Foothill Boulevard, waiting to make a left turn onto Angeles Crest Highway.
He recounted seeing the carrier careening down Angeles Crest hitting everything in its path. "It came down so fast, it pushed everything out of its way," Curiel said. "There were cars flying everywhere; a black car was spinning toward me and the driver was terrified. I saw his eyes. You think of this all the time when going down Angeles Crest: If you lose your brakes, where are you supposed to stop?
"My God, that little red car – it just ran over it," he said, with emotion in his voice.
Units from L.A. County Fire Station 82 were first emergency personnel on scene and quickly employed the jaws of life to extricate trapped occupants from a van that was also hit by the carrier.
Flintridge Bookstore and Coffee Shop was open for business at the time of the accident and people were in the store. A female store employee suffered a broken leg in the accident.
Los Angeles County Urban Search and Rescue and Fire Department are shoring up the bookstore's building, including adjacent business units. The building is a historic former garage in La Canada, built more than 80 years ago.
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