1 dead, 5 injured including children in wrong-way crash on 101 Freeway in Encino

Local news

An SUV traveling the wrong direction on the 101 Freeway struck a big rig near the 405 Freeway in Encino Thursday evening, killing one person and injuring five others, some of whom were children, officials said.

The SUV driver fought with responding officers and was arrested at the scene, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The SUV, a 2003 Lincoln Navigator, was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes when it hit the big rig head-on at about 7 p.m. west of Haskell Avenue, CHP said.

One adult and four children were transported to a local hospital. Another person, an adult woman who was trapped, was pronounced dead, according to Nicholas Prange of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Her identity was being withheld until her family could be notified, CHP said.

All of those injured and the deceased woman were traveling in the SUV, Prange said. The big rig driver declined medical transport.

The truck driver had “attempted to avoid a collision but could not due to the 2003 Lincoln’s erratic driving,” a CHP collision report stated.

The driver of the SUV exited the car after the crash and attempted to flee, though officers were able to detain the driver with the use of a Taser, according to the CHP. He was “combative” and “physically assaulted” officers, the agency stated.

That driver, later identified by the CHP as 31-year-old Cesar Iban Torres of Los Angeles, was transported to a local hospital for treatment after being taken into custody.

As of Friday, Torres was being held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in lieu of $1 million bail, according to jail records.

The children were also hospitalized as a precaution, but with minor injuries. Their ages were not available.

It was unclear if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the collision, according to the CHP.

Family members identified the deceased victim Friday as 26-year-old Aimee García, a mother of four, on a GoFundMe page created for funeral expenses.

“She was a loving, caring mother,” the page reads. “Unfortunately she was a victim of domestic violence for many years and yesterday the aggressor fulfilled his objective and enter the freeway the wrong way intentionally killing my niece.”

Authorities did not provide information about whether the deceased victim and the driver of the SUV knew one another.

“Thank God the children are fine but very traumatized,” the GoFundMe page says.

The crash prompted the partial closure of the 101 Freeway, with authorities advising motorists to avoid the area. As of approximately 9:30 p.m. Thursday, only two lanes in the southbound direction had reopened. Northbound traffic remained unimpeded.

All lanes were reopened as of 2:30 a.m. Friday, according to a CHP update.

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