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One Killed, 13 Injured When Car Swerves Onto Sidewalk

March 25, 1987

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A car driven by an unlicensed teen-age driver went out of control on a rain-slickened street and careened into a sidewalk crowded with high school students, killing one and injuring 13 others, police said.

″I heard a bang and I looked down and there were a bunch of girls lying all over,″ said Tony Aguilar, 13, who lives near the site of the Tuesday afternoon accident.

″It was like a bowling alley,″ said police Sgt. Burt Crosbie. ″He just bowled them over.″

Rhonda Chavez, 17, of Los Angeles died late Tuesday of chest injuries at County-USC Medical Center, said spokeswoman Adelaida de la Cerda.

Thirteen other pedestrians, all believed to be 15 to 17 years old, were taken to hospitals for treatment of injuries ranging from scrapes and bruises to broken bones. Four remained hospitalized today, including two girls listed in serious condition, hospital spokesmen said.

The 17-year-old driver was questioned by police but released five hours after the accident, said Officer Dan Chico. The driver was identified as Steve Garcia.

″There’s no charges now but there could be when we finish our investigation, ″ Chico said, adding that the boy had no driver’s license.

″He was sober,″ the officer said, ″but one of our witnesses had him going kind of fast, about 40.″ The speed limit is 25 mph, he said.

The driver and his passenger were unhurt, Chico said.

The car was headed down a slight hill on wet pavement when the driver swerved to avoid pedestrians crossing the street near Woodrow Wilson High School, Chico said. The driver lost control and the car ran up on the sidewalk, coming to rest with two girls pinned beneath.

″I saw kids scattered all over my grass,″ said Charles Aguilar, 60. ″There were about seven just lying there. They were howling, just screaming.″

Nick Martinez said the driver jumped out of his car after the accident and yelled, ″Look what they did to my car 3/8″

″I told him, ’Look what ... you did to those kids,‴ Martinez said.

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