UPDATED 5:01 p.m. Tuesday
The 13-year-old son of the woman killed in a July 4 accident on Valencia Boulevard opened his eyes and was responsive to family members visiting him at UCLA Medical Center on Tuesday morning.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Cohen spoke to the family as part of the continuing investigation into the crash that happened just before the finale of the city’s fireworks show Sunday night.
A 21-year old woman driving a white Infinity allegedly ran a red light at Valencia Boulevard and the mall entrance, hitting a Dodge Durango and spinning out of control into a crowd of spectators sitting near the Islands restaurant. Killed instantly was Matilde Garnica-Juarez, 43, a Newhall mother of three. It was reported that the driver was distracted by the fireworks. To see the original story, click here.
Garnica-Juarez’s son was airlifted to Childrens Hospital with significant head injuries and remains in critical condition. Her remaining two children and four other minors were taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
The driver stayed on the scene until her parents came to accompany her to the local hospital, where she took blood and breath analysis tests. At this time, it does not appear that alcohol was a factor in the crash. Drug test results are pending.
Cohen said that he’s aware of the community buzz that question why the driver has not been arrested or cited for an offense, as well as the city’s wisdom of leaving the street open during such a popular event.
“There are a lot of witnesses for us to contact and some people have video of the accident that we need to review,” he explained. “It’s too lengthy an investigation and we don’t want to rush it. If we present it to the district attorney, we want to make sure everything is complete and that we have a good case.
“I’ve talked with the city engineer and we’re waiting to hear from the city council,” he continued, addressing the closure issue. “There are people sitting everywhere; by the mall, by Target. Where do you close the street? And how many do you close? Where do you end that?”
Anyone who witnessed the accident and wishes to make a statement is encouraged to call the Santa Clarita Valley station and speak with Sgt. Cohen at 661-255-1121.
A fund to help the Garnica family is being established by AYSO Region 678, where the family was involved. Checks can be sent to the AYSO (with a notation on the check designating the money for the Garnica family) at P.O. Box 220307, Newhall, CA 91322-0307.
The Puzzle Zoo in the Westfield Valencia Town Center will donate 10 percent of gross sales on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (July 9, 10, 11) to the Garnica family. A donation bucket will be available as well.