WHITTIER – A woman died, but no students were injured, after her car crossed over into opposing traffic lanes a collided with another car and a school bus Friday, officials said.
The name of the dead woman was not available pending positive identification and notification of family members. She was initially described by California Highway Patrol
officials as a 60-year-old Los Angeles woman.
The crash was reported just before 12:50 p.m. on westbound Beverly Boulevard, just west of the 605 Freeway.
Prior to the collision, a Pupil Transportation Cooperative bus carrying 10 La Serna High School students was westbound on Beverly Boulevard in the right hand lane at about 35 mph, CHP Officer Al Perez said. A Lexus sedan was being driven in the left lane of Beverly Boulevard at about 35 mph, just ahead of the bus.
The 60-year-old woman was driving a Toyota Camry, he said.
“The Toyota was travelling eastbound on Beverly at an unknown speed and, for an unknown reason, came into the opposing lanes,” Perez said.
The front, right portion of the Camry first struck the front, right portion of the westbound Lexus, Perez said.
“The Toyota continued eastbound and struck the school bus,” he said. The vehicles collided head-on, with the front, left portion of the Camry strucking the front, left portion of the school bus.
Firefighters cut the roof of the badly damaged Camry to access the driver, but the woman was beyond help.
Paramedics pronounced the woman dead at the scene, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Keith Mora said.
Perez said the fatal collision saddened the investigating officers, and he extended his condolences to the family of the dead woman, the students who witnessed the crash and their parents.
The woman driving the Lexus was taken to a hospital for treatment after complaining of pain, though her injuries were not believed to be major, Perez said.
The driver of the school bus, a La Habra woman in her 30s, was also uninjured, he said.
The bus was making its rounds dropping students off when the collision occurred, CHP Officer Joe Zizi said.
Some parent picked up their children from the crash scene, Perez said. The rest were picked up by a second bus to complete their journeys.
Whittier Union High School District spokeswoman Valerie Martinez said the school will make counseling available to the students who were on the bus.
“We have a strong counseling staff,” she said. “On Monday, we’ll have our counselors and psychologists who will be on campus and all call reaching out to students to see if they need any additional support.”
CHP officers shut down both directions of Beverly Boulevard between Pioneer Boulevard and San Gabriel River Parkway for several hours as they investigated the scene.
“The CHP is going to conduct a thorough investigation into this incident,” Perez said.
As part of the investigation, officers will try to piece together the history of the wrong way driver in the 24 hours prior to the collision.
PHOTO by Keith Durflinger