A crash course in southern California’s Mexican-American history.
A 6-year-old boy injured when about a dozen pedestrians were struck by a vehicle as they left a Catholic Church in Redondo Beach earlier this week has died, becoming the fourth fatality resulting from the crash, The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office said today.
The announcement of Samuel Gaza's death by Lt. David Smith of the Los Angeles County Coroner's office early Friday came hours before the woman blamed for the accident was to appear in a Torrance courtroom.
Police are awaiting the results of toxicology tests, but said 56-year-old Margo Bronstein may have had prescription drugs in her system when she struck the pedestrians around 8 p.m. Wednesday. The Redondo Beach resident is being held in lieu of $300,000 bail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter.
The group of pedestrians had just left the concert at St. James Catholic School and Parish and was crossing Pacific Coast Highway at Vincent Street, when the driver of a northbound white Saturn ran the red light and slammed into them, police said.
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Police said the driver, with a child still being dragged by the car – the child was the boy who has now died – swerved into the southbound lanes of PCH and slammed head-on into another vehicle.
"Next thing I know, there's a car coming through them all and people were flying in the air," witness Michael Tovar said, adding he approached the driver, who didn't get out of her car following the crash.
"I yelled at her and I asked her, `What did you do?' And she just looked at me, blank-eyed," he said. "Me and another gentleman looked down and I thought it was a jacket that the car was on, but it was a little boy. And it turns out this little boy was my granddaughter's school mate."
Three of the pedestrians were killed: Mary Wilson, 81, Saeko Matsumura, 87, and Martha Gaza, 36, all of Torrance, police said.
Bronstein suffered minor injuries, as did the driver of the vehicle she struck. Five children were among the 11 injured pedestrians.
Dozens of parishioners attended a midday Mass at the church Thursday to pray for the victims.
The Los Angeles Times, citing Department of Motor Vehicles records, reported that Bronstein had a clean driving record. She has some driving restrictions, such as using hand-controlled brakes and being required to have an additional right-side mirror, the Times reported. On her Facebook page, Bronstein posted photos Tuesday from a trip to Disneyland, where she apparently went with family on Monday to celebrate her birthday. The photos show her using a mobility scooter.
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