3 killed, 2 injured when car hits tree on Colima Road

first_img• Photo Gallery: Friends mourn crash victims WHITTIER – Police said Wednesday they were still trying to determine whether drugs or alcohol played any role in a single-car accident that killed three teens and injured two others Tuesday night. Police said the 2006 Toyota Scion was being driven by Xenia Guerra, 18, of Whittier when it went out of control on Colima Road just north of Mar Vista Street. The car crashed into a tree and was torn into two parts, which came to rest within 25 feet to 30 feet of each other. Guerra, who suffered non-life- threatening injuries, was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center, where she was listed in stable condition, Whittier Police Department spokeswoman Diana Salazar said. Salazar could not immediately confirm whether Yoakum was at the scene, saying traffic investigators had interviewed numerous witnesses and it was difficult to say immediately whether Yoakum was one of them. But Yoakum sounded clearly shaken as he described what he saw. “I’ve been crying all night long for these kids,” said Yoakum, his voice tinged with emotion. “The kids were gone in less than the blink of an eye. I don’t know if this is right or not, but I just want to let people know their children didn’t suffer one tiny bit.” Yoakum said after the crash, he rushed to the scene. He said he saw Saenz, conscious but not quite coherent, inside the car and helped him out of the wreckage by cutting off his seat belt. A memorial of candles, balloons and CDs quickly sprang up at the site Wednesday. Salazar said there have been other accidents over the years on that stretch of road, which is on a steep downhill slope. “Anytime you have a downhill slope, the issue of speed is a concern,” Salazar said. “But we do have efforts in place to control the speed limit.” John Ortberg, executive pastor at the Whittier Area Community Church, said collisions are not uncommon near the intersection. Church officials have asked the city to install a traffic signal near the Murphy Ranch Little League baseball fields. “I think it would help to slow things down, because this is something that’s happening that shouldn’t be happening,” Ortberg said. “The road doesn’t seem to be that dangerous.” tracy.garcia@sgvn.com (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Pronounced dead at the scene were Albert Joseph Valasquez, 19, and Jennifer Unzueta, 18, both of Whittier; and Joshua David Gutierrez, 19, of Pico Rivera. Another passenger, Hector Saenz, 18, of Whittier, who was sitting directly behind Guerra, was injured. He was airlifted to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he was in stable condition, Salazar said. Salazar said an investigation was under way to determine the cause of the crash, which took place a couple of hundred yards from a wilderness area and near the Whittier Area Community Church. A Whittier man said he was driving behind the Scion moments before the accident. Allen Yoakum, 53, said he was driving home with his wife when the accident occurred shortly before 7 p.m. “They were passing me and almost hit the front of my truck when they were swerving around me,” he said. “I looked down to see how fast I was going, and by the time I looked up – it was only two seconds – it was all over with.” last_img read more