POMONA, Calif. – A grisly car crash killed four members of a church group and closed a freeway east of Los Angeles for hours Friday, authorities said. One victim remains in critical condition.
Five young men and teens in a church group were in a speeding 1994 Toyota Camry that went out of control at about 10:45 a.m. The car struck the center divider on the Pomona Freeway and rolled over.
Three occupants were hurled from the mangled vehicle, with one landing in opposing traffic. Two died at the scene. Two died later at hospitals.
The car was one of four occupied by members of a youth group from Walnut Blessing Church of the Nazarene heading to an ice-skating rink, authorities said. The two 17-year-olds, two 18-year-olds and a 21-year-old had fallen behind the caravan.
The victims' identities were not immediately released.
Church co-pastor Peter Lundell told KCAL-TV that his congregation was in shock.
"Pretty much everybody got cried out over several hours, and then we heard news that one of those who was taken to a hospital later died, and that sent everybody into another wave of shock," Lundell said. "At this point it just seems like there's no tears left and people can't even talk."
Lundell said at least two of the young men in the car were brothers, all were high school and college students, and a college student was driving.
The freeway was closed in both directions for hours, causing huge backups of cars and trucks in the region 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.