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5th fatal crash on Angeles Crest Highway prompts safety concerns

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Two motorists died in separate crashes on Angeles Crest Highway over the weekend, bringing to five the number of fatalities since the road was recently reopened.

The latest crash occurred early Sunday. A witness at the Coldwater Campground reported seeing a blue Honda go off the road near mile marker 32 on San Gabriel Canyon Road about 2:27 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

The name of the victim, a woman between 40 and 50 years old, has not been released. CHP Officer Jennifer Connolly said she could not say whether there were other occupants in the car.

A stretch of the steep winding route through the San Gabriel Mountains was closed from January 2010 to June of this year for repairs of road damage caused by heavy rain that washed debris from slopes denuded by the Station fire.

Three fatal accidents — one involving a motorcycle and the other two solo car crashes — occurred on the highway during the first three weeks after it reopened.

State transportation officials have launched an investigation into those deaths, which the California Highway Patrol had attributed to excessive speed and, in one case, drunk driving.

During its investigation of the lower portion of Angeles Crest, Caltrans will evaluate signage, traffic volume and enforcement.The CHP has intensified traffic enforcement efforts along the roadway since its reopening, especially on weekends. Officers patrolling Angeles Crest on July 30 and 31 cited 60 drivers for excessive speed and other offenses.

On Saturday afternoon, the driver lost control of the car 2 miles north of Mt. Wilson-Red Box Road, CHP Officer Anthony Martin said.

The vehicle left the road, struck something and overturned, Martin said. There was no report from investigating officers at the scene as to what the car struck, who was killed or whether there were other occupants or injuries.

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-- Abby Sewell and Carol J. Williams

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

 
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