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Witnesses describe airborne cars, violent impact in Newport Beach crash that killed 3 [Updated]

January 16, 2011 |  7:43 am

A fatal, multiple-vehicle crash on West Coast Highway at Riverside Avenue is photographed by a crime scene investigator on Saturday afternoon. Ten vehicles were involved in the crash, which killed three people and sent one to the hospital in critical condition.

 

Witnesses to a chain-reaction crash in Newport Beach on Saturday that left three people dead described a horrific scene of cars going airborne.

Lt. Bill Hartford of the Newport Beach Police Department said the crash occurred about 2:40 p.m at Riverside Avenue and West Coast Highway. More than three hours later, Orange County coroner’s workers were still working to remove the three victims, he said.

“They are all adults, but due to the violent nature of the traffic accident, it’s hard to determine their gender,” Hartford said. “It was a really violent collision.”

[Updated Sunday 10:25 a.m.: Coroner officials identified the victims as 69-year-old Linda Burnett of Santa Ana, Christopher De La Cruz, 49, of Laguna Niguel and Julia Allen, 27, of Newport Beach.]

Witness Sam Schudi was sitting in the left-turn lane facing east on West Coast Highway at Riverside Avenue when a gold Ford Taurus came flying at his vehicle, with the Taurus's rear end landing on his car's front hood. Witnesses reported seeing a second car airborne, too.

"It was a wall of cars coming at us," Schudi told the Daily Pilot.

Witness Jason Girvin said the Taurus "plowed into everybody."

Witnesses said the Taurus was airborne for more than 50 feet before crashing into several other cars and a motorcycle. The motorcycle rider was critically injured, officials said.

"It's like, what the hell is that?" Schudi remembered thinking as the undercarriage of the Taurus flashed by his car window.

--Joseph Serna and Hector Becerra

Photo: A fatal, multiple-vehicle crash on West Coast Highway at Riverside Avenue is photographed by a crime scene investigator on Saturday afternoon. Ten vehicles were involved in the crash, which killed three people and sent one to the hospital in critical condition. (Kent Treptow/Times Community News)

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