Three Baldwin Park women who were killed when a wrong-way driver crashed into their vehicle on the 210 Freeway were headed home from a Christmas party, a family member told KTLA Monday night.
Earlier in the day, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office identified released the names of the three women, as well as the driver of the other car who also died in the head-on crash.
Patricia Guadalupe Araujuo, 60; Dinora Elizabeth Ortiz, 62; and Ana Patricia Zuniga, 56, were driving back home around 1:50 a.m. Sunday when a Chevy Impala heading west on the 210 near Lake Terrace slammed into their vehicle, a Toyota Corolla, authorities said.
Araujuo and Ortiz were pronounced dead at the scene; Zuniga was transported to a local hospital where she later died, according to Ed Winter of the coroner’s office.
Family members said Ortiz and Zuniga were sisters, and Araujuo was their good friend.
“They were coming from a Christmas party — I believe it was in Pacoima — and they were just coming back here, they had I think a busy day the next day to set up for church,” said Ortiz’s son-in-law, who identified himself only as Patrick. He described them as being very active at Saint John The Baptist Catholic Church in Baldwin Park, where they were members.
The three women grew up together in El Salvador and came to the U.S. to work hard and make a better life for their families, according to Patrick. All three leave behind several children.
The driver of the Impala — a Chatsworth resident identified by Winter as 30-year-old Ruben Adrian Gonzalez — had a prior conviction for DUI in 2010, Los Angeles County court records showed. His driving privileges were revoked but reinstated in May 2012, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Authorities are investigating whether alcohol or drugs were a factor in Sunday’s fatal crash, said California Highway Patrol Officer Craig Mogi.
The call initially came in as a wrong-way driver, but officers were not able to make it in time before the collision. Mogi told KTLA those reports are always hard to receive.
“Your heart drops because wrong-way drivers never end well,” he said. “So everyone just goes as fast as they can to get on scene to try and stop something like this from happening. Unfortunately, today we didn’t make it.”
An investigation into the crash is ongoing.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for the funerals of Ortiz and Zuniga. More information can be found here.
KTLA’s Matt Phillips and Nidia Becerra contributed to this story.