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16-year-old girl headed to prom killed in car accident

May 31, 2009 |  6:01 pm

A 16-year-old girl on her way to her high school prom was killed Saturday when the car she was riding in overturned near downtown Los Angeles, authorities said.

Jennifer Perla was one of a group of people in a 2003 Chevrolet that was headed south on the 110 Freeway when it was involved in a single-vehicle accident about 8 p.m., California Highway Patrol officials said.

The driver, 18-year-old Kenneth Mullen, lost control near the 3rd Street exit and the car ended up on its side, officials said.

Perla, a sophomore at Taft High School in Woodland Hills, was pronounced dead at the scene. Everyone else in the car, including Perla’s sister, Janet, was treated for injuries, according to family members and Los Angeles Fire spokeswoman D’Lisa Davies.

The teenagers were headed to Taft’s senior prom at the California Science Center near USC, said Perla’s brother, Mike. Authorities said there were at least six people in the vehicle.

Mike Perla, 24, said he was at home with his parents when his younger sister Janet, a senior at Taft, called to tell them about the accident.

“You just can’t imagine. It’s horrible. Plain horrible,” he said.

Perla said his sister had just celebrated a birthday and was a popular cheerleader who loved dancing and dreamed of joining the FBI.

She had been invited to the dance by a senior and left the house in a purple dress.

“She looked so beautiful in that dress,” Mike Perla said. “She was stunning.”

-- Corina Knoll and Ari Bloomekatz