Correction: Due to a source error, The Signal incorrectly reported the woman fled the scene of the crash.
By Gilbert Bernal and Perry Smith
California Highway Patrol officers are investigating a fatal, fiery single-vehicle crash in Stevenson Ranch that sent two children and their mother, a Bakersfield woman who was wearing no clothes — reportedly fled from the scene on foot.
The driver, identified only as a female adult, is expected to survive her injuries. Two children, ages 2 and 6, were in the car at the time of the crash. The 2-year-old girl was in critical condition Monday afternoon and a 6-year-old girl died from injuries sustained in the crash.
Good Samaritans at the scene sprung into action to try to help the two young victims.
The woman’s car, a 2019 Subaru, was traveling northbound on The Old Road “at what appears to be a high rate of speed,” according to a CHP report of the incident. The vehicle veered into the southbound lanes, “striking a curb, a sign and a traffic signal.” The car then reportedly “traveled out of control across the intersection of Pico Canyon Road, where it struck a traffic signal, a tree and an Edison box.” The car then came to a stop on the northwest corner of the intersection, where it then caught fire.
“The call came in at 9:43 (a.m.). It looks like it was a solo-vehicle (crash),” said Marvin Lim of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “The vehicle was well-involved.”
The driver, identified only as a 31-year-old woman from Bakersfield, sustained injuries but is expected to survive, he added. “Pico Canyon and The Old Road are going to be closed for an unknown duration during the investigation.”
As of Monday evening, the driver was not in custody.
Witnesses on the scene who responded as soon as the crash happened quickly jumped into action to try and help the occupants of the vehicle. They reported a woman and two children were in the car.
“I heard the car coming up from (over the hill) from the top really fast,” said Mimi Hennelly, who was a witness on the scene. “And I heard the screech, and I believe (the car) hit the center divider, because they lost the bumper. And then I saw when they came really fast, and it hit the tree and it just wrapped around it. And I said, ‘Oh my God.’ So I was going to reach for my telephone to call 911 … And somebody had run already to rescue them. And then people were already (out of their) cars calling 911.”
Jerry Jordan, an occupational therapist with the William S. Hart Union High School District, was driving eastbound on Pico Canyon Road on Monday morning, when he saw the scene in front of him and rushed to help out:
“I ran towards the car and couldn’t open the doors on the passenger side. So I came over to the driver side. And I noticed there were two children in the back seat. So I opened the back door on the driver’s side and tried to undo the seatbelts. I couldn’t undo the seatbelt,” Jordan said. “So I started screaming, because at that point, people were starting to get there and they asked people if anyone had a knife … And somebody produced a knife, and I cut the two girls out of the back. Which, you know, at the time, I was wondering if I should, you know, people were trying to decide if they should get away from the car or not because the fire was getting bigger and bigger. We managed to get them both cut out.
“I pulled one out and onto the ground, the driver was actually naked and pulled out of the driver’s side and next to the car. I went back and I cut out the other child that was in the back seat. In-car seat, the car seat was all the wrong position. So we got that one out. Meanwhile, the fire was getting higher and higher. So we move the younger ones over and the driver again, who was the naked woman, was way too close to the car, so I asked for help to move her away. We decided we were probably 10-15 feet away from the car, we decided to just start CPR because I noticed that it’s just crazy. I noticed that the girl’s lips were turning blue, and I was like, ‘Hey, this person isn’t breathing.’
“So, I called for people to start CPR and we started doing CPR,” Jordan said. “Meanwhile, I’m trying to remember … how to do CPR on someone so small. So we started to do chest compressions. Then this other guy, the guy who gave me the knife came in and helped with the compressions also, at which point I was trying to decide whether it’s 15 compressions or 30 for a smaller person. Long story short, a nurse arrived on the scene, and she helped and sort of stuck with that.”
This is a breaking news story, and more information will be added as it becomes available.