A 40-year-old nurse has been arrested and is being booked on vehicular manslaughter charges in the fiery Windsor Hills crash that killed five people, including a pregnant woman, law enforcement sources confirmed to The Times on Friday.
The woman, who is in the hospital, was identified as the driver of the Mercedes-Benz that hurtled down La Brea Ave toward Slauson Avenue between 80 and 100 miles per hour at the time of the crash Thursday afternoon, sources said. Investigators are checking her bloodwork to determine if she was under the influence, and she is cooperating with California Highway Patrol investigators, according to two sources.
She is to be formally charged by the Los Angeles County district attorney on Monday.
The arrest comes as the coroner identified the pregnant woman who died in the high-speed crash.
Asherey Ryan, 23, was the pregnant woman killed in Thursday’s crash, sources confirmed. It was not immediately known which car she was in or how she was involved in the crash.
The names of the four others who died have not been released.
Eight people were also injured in the crash. The L.A. County Fire Department responded to the crash just after 1:40 p.m.
After the crash, a streak of fire burned on the ground.
Smoke could be seen billowing from miles away.
Officer Franco Pepi, a California Highway Patrol spokesperson, said Thursday afternoon that three adults, including a pregnant woman, and an infant were killed in the crash.
Authorities later found another person’s remains inside one of the burned vehicles, he said. That person’s gender or age weren’t known Thursday night.
Ryan also lost her unborn child, which the CHP was counting as an additional fatality “due to rare circumstances,” Pepi said.
A Windsor Hills intersection turned fiery in a Thursday multi-vehicle collision.
Authorities took eight people to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center for treatment, he said. Of those injured, six were teens and one suffered major injuries.
A woman who did not want to be named told The Times a Mercedes-Benz hit her car as she was leaving a United Oil gas station.
“I was getting out, had got gas,” she said. “All of a sudden that Mercedes is coming at me on … fire. I didn’t have any time to think about it. It hit my car. I veered, hit the bench on the side.”
The crash caused her to fear a gasoline-fueled explosion, she told The Times.
Nearby, the wrecked Mercedes-Benz with a smashed hood had crashed into a curb.
Investigators believe the driver of the Mercedes-Benz was responsible for the crash, Pepi said.
The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but the CHP spokesperson said investigators determined the Mercedes was traveling “at a high rate of speed” and ran a red light while traveling southbound on La Brea.
The woman was hospitalized but was conscious and speaking with CHP investigators Thursday night, he said, adding that he did not know the extent of her injuries.
At least six vehicles were involved in the crash, three of which were engulfed in flames, Pepi said. The others sustained moderate damage.
Mourners began to gather at the crash site Friday. Witnesses described a horrific scene.
Eran Hall has worked at La Brea Gas across the street for about eight months and has seen several car crashes, but never like the one that unfolded Thursday.
“Everyone was just shocked,” Hall told The Times on Friday morning. “Some people started to run away from the gas station because of all the flames. Other people started helping the drivers in the other cars that were pushed to the side.”
At least two people ran out with fire extinguishers, Hall said.
Henry Sanchez, who works at the Sinclair gas station, said the flames were out of control.
“At that point it was just too late for people to do anything,” Sanchez said.
Before the crash, Sanchez heard the scraping sound of the car coming down the hill.
“You hear the tires grinding,” Sanchez said. “The sound stuck with me.”
Noel Senior who works at Little Kingston Jamaican heard a loud boom and when he stepped outside his business and looked down the street he saw a column of flames lapping up at the gas station sign. “There was nothing we could have done. Nobody was going to come from the fire,” Senior said.
Veronica Esquival told KTLA-TV Channel 5 that a baby came to rest in the intersection. “One of the workers came and saw me with the baby and took the baby out of my hands. Somebody tried to resuscitate the baby, but the baby was gone,” she said.
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