Coroner identifies pregnant woman in fiery crash in California

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LOS ANGELES — Authorities have identified a pregnant woman who died in a fiery accident just outside Los Angeles on Thursday when a speeding car ran a red light and collided with other vehicles at a busy intersection. Four others, including a child, also died.

The coroner’s office on Friday identified one of the victims as Asherey Ryan, a 23-year-old pregnant woman from Los Angeles. Her unborn child was listed as “baby boy Ryan” in the online coroner’s records.

Two other women and a man, as well as a boy, were killed, but their names were not made public on Friday.

Shortly after 1:30 p.m., a Mercedes-Benz sedan caused the crash involving as many as six cars at a gas station in the unincorporated Windsor Hills, about 10 miles southwest of downtown LA, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Several people were thrown from the cars and two vehicles caught fire. Television reports showed the blackened and mangled cars, as well as a children’s car seat among the rubble that covered the street.

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Video showed the Mercedes hurtling through an intersection and hitting at least two cars which exploded in flames and sped onto a sidewalk and hit the sign on the corner of the gas station. A fiery streak led to one car. A vehicle was torn in two.

The car was traveling at least 80 km/h as it raced through the busy intersection, CHP agent Franco Pepi said.

Pepi said eight people were taken to hospital, including the 40-year-old woman driving the Mercedes. She had serious injuries.

The other victims had minor injuries, including a 33-year-old woman and six children, ages 13 months to 15 years old, Pepi said.

A memorial grew outside the intersection Friday, as mourners left flowers and candles in memory of the dead.

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Henry Sanchez, who works at nearby Sinclair Gas, was at the cash register when he heard “the loudest noise I’ve ever heard.”

“The sound of it, it was heartbreaking,” he told The The New Zealand Times on Friday. “It was like two trains hitting each other, metal on metal.”

He saw people running to the cars to help, but they were held back by the flames until firefighters arrived.

“I remember everyone trying to put out the fire and help people as much as possible, but nobody could do anything,” he said.

Veronica Esquival told KTLA-TV she covered her head for protection as the debris flew away.

“All of a sudden, a baby literally flew from the center of the intersection to the center of the gas station and landed on the ground right in front of me,” Esquival said. “One of the workers came and saw me with the baby and took the baby out of my hands. … Someone tried to resuscitate the baby, but the baby was gone.”

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Debra Jackson, told KCBS-TV that she was about to get out of her car to accelerate when she heard a large explosion.

“The flames just went over everyone,” Jackson said. “The flames went all over my car and they told me to jump out of my car … because I was trying to get out of my car, to go to the gas station. And I jumped out of my car and just left my car there .”

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The New Zealand Times photojournalist Damian Dovarganes in Los Angeles and news researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.

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