Police have discovered that the man who swerved into oncoming lanes, causing an accident that killed a mother and her two daughters Wednesday morning in Hollywood was driving with a suspended license.
According to an investigation by the LAPD, 74 year old Solomon Mathenge of Lawndale was driving his silver Infiniti SUV northbound on Highland Avenue through Willoughby Avenue at 7:20 a.m. when he suddenly veered into oncoming lanes and crashed into a Dodge Caravan minivan.
27 year old Saida Juana Mendez-Bernardino and her two daughters, 4 year old Stephanie Cruz and 6 year old Hilda Cruz, were killed in the impact, which sent the van sliding into a concrete light post.
Witnesses at the scene reported that the collision sounded like an explosion. “I was an EMT in Arizona so I’ve seen accidents,” said Steve Livingston, who was not far from the crash site. “This [accident], just by judging what I saw of the van, I knew there was going to be some very unfortunate news today for someone’s family.”
Paramedics who responded to the crash reported that 4 year old Stephanie was killed immediately in the crash, and that Hilda and her mother were rushed to a nearby hospital, though they were pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
Mendez-Bernardino was reportedly taking her kids to school for the today, Melrose Elementary, at the time of the accident.
Mathenge was also injured in the crash, and he remains hospitalized in critical condition. A search through the man’s file showed that his license had been suspended for a failure to appear in court on a traffic citation. He was reportedly cited for speeding and talking on his cell phone.
Mathenge has yet to face any criminal charges at this time, however, as the investigation into the accident is still ongoing, and it is still unclear what caused his SUV to swerve into oncoming lanes.
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