Wrong-way crash survivor describes horror – NY Daily News
Foot survivor of California wrong-way crash that killed six recalls horror
The only surviving victim of the horrific wrong-way crash that killed six people in Southern California Sunday has recalled the chilling moment he realized many lives were lost in the twisted wreckage.
Joel Cortez said he was sitting in his crushed Ford Freestyle just seconds after a suspected tipsy driver allegedly caused the three-car pileup, and he could hear panicked voices in the darkness.
“I heard people talking on the outside. They said, ‘Oh my God, there are figures all over the place,'” Cortez, 57, told KTLA.
“There were lots of parts of my interior car inwards of me, in my gams, everywhere,” he said, explaining that the incredible force of the crash slammed his vehicle into a barrier wall.
Joel Cortez is the foot survivor of the fatal crash in Southern California.
Miraculously, his injuries were not life-threatening.
Cortez said he’d been driving on the westbound sixty Freeway in Diamond Bar around Four:40 a.m. when the crimson Ford Explorer in front of him abruptly “just hopped” into the air.
Police suspect Olivia Carolee Culbreath, 21, of allegedly causing the harrowing high-speed collision while driving inebriated at a speed of more than one hundred mph in the wrong direction.
Suspected tipsy driver Olivia Carolee Culbreath, 21, allegedly caused the harrowing high-speed collision while driving more than one hundred mph in the wrong direction, police said.
The Fontana resident plowed her Chevrolet Camaro head-on into the one thousand nine hundred ninety eight Explorer and caused the chain reaction that also consumed Cortez’s vehicle, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Culbreath survived, but her two passengers — sister Maya Louise Culbreath, 24, of Rialto, and Kristin Melissa Youthful, 21, of Chino — lost their lives at the scene, authorities said.
Officials investigate the crash scene Sunday to determine a cause.
All four members of the Huntington Park family traveling in the Ford Explorer also perished. They were identified by the Los Angeles County coroner as Gregorio Mejia-Martinez, 47, Leticia Ibarra, 42, Jessica Jasmine Mejia, 20, and Ester Delgado, an elderly woman believed to be at least eighty years old.
The death investigation will include toxicology tests on the passengers in the Camaro, a coroner spokesman told the Daily News Wednesday.
Olivia Culbreath remained at USC Medical Center Wednesday, the hospital confirmed.
Joel Cortez was the only survivor of the three-car pileup caused by what police say was a toasted driver going the wrong way on the highway.
She was being treated for a violated femur and a ruptured bladder, according to KTLA.
She was booked Monday on suspicion of felony DUI causing good bodily injury or death and felony manslaughter, the California Highway Patrol said in a news advisory.
Olivia Culbreath had a previous DUI conviction from two thousand ten and other traffic violations on her record and had limitations on her license lifted just a week before the crash, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Asked if he was angry at the 21-year-old alleged inebriated driver, Cortez said he felt pity.
“I don’t feel angry,” he said. “I feel sorry, you know, for her. I can’t imagine how you can live the rest of your life … thinking how many people you killed, including your own sister.”