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Third teen arrested in Boyle Heights bus accident that kills 1, injures 21 [Update]

October 25, 2010 |  8:40 pm

A third person has been arrested in a hit-and-run accident that killed a pedestrian and injured nearly two dozen students on board a school bus traveling through Boyle Heights on Monday afternoon, authorities said.

Authorities had earlier reported that two teenage boys in a black BMW had fled the accident scene after running a red light and triggering the accident.

But later in the evening, the California Highway Patrol said, a third youth surfaced at an area hospital seeking treatment for injuries, apparently suffered in the crash.

The three youths –- all hospitalized –- will be taken to juvenile detention after being treated.

The BMW driver and passengers had jumped out of the car and fled, but two of the youths were quickly apprehended by construction workers who had seen the crash, authorities said.

Authorities said they are investigating whether drunk driving might have been involved in the 3:22 p.m. wreck at 1st and Soto streets. All three of the teens in the BMW are juveniles; police did not release their names.

Marco Valdez, 17, a passenger on the bus, told The Times the bus had been coming from the East Los Angeles Skills Center when the car hit a pedestrian and then swerved into the bus. The bus overturned at the entrance to the Metro Gold Line Soto Station.

“Some kids at the front of the bus were bleeding and scraped up, but everybody seemed all right,” Marco said.

Susana Romero, 16, an 11th-grader at Roosevelt High, said she'd been sitting near the back of the bus talking with friends when she heard a “big boom.”

"It made us fly,” she said. “I flipped. I fell to the other side of the bus and then I blacked out.”

When she came to, the bus was on its side and she could hear people crying and moaning. She said there was a lot of broken glass, which seemed to have bloodied a number of students.

“We were all like ‘Are you OK?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Are you OK?’ ‘Yes,’ ” Romero said.

She said she crawled to an emergency door at the back of the bus to get out.

The students were among those speaking at the Hollenbeck police station, where Susana had just been reunited with her mother, Juana Lopez, 39, who was holding her tight. The two live in Boyle Heights.

Earlier, her mother had been shaking and in tears as she waited for news of her daughter.

Dozens of spectators, shopkeepers, parents and others gathered at the accident scene as emergency workers assisted students. Among them was L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

“As a parent, one thing we expect is when our kids go to and from school, they are safe,” said Villaraigosa. “We breathe a sigh of relief today that there were no serious or fatal injuries to the children.”

The bus was carrying 46 students and 20 –- along with the bus driver -- were taken to hospitals. The bus driver was listed in serious condition; the students had non-life-threatening injuries.

[Updated 11:06 p.m. Several passengers in a second second bus suffered injuries when the driver braked sharply to avoid hitting the bus that was struck by the BMW, said police Sgt.  Mitzi Grasso, an LAPD spokeswoman.]

- Sam Allen, Kate Linthicum and Alexandra Zavis

[Correction: An early version referred to the crash site as a Metrolink station]