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West Covina: Celia La Torre Killed, Jaime Ochoa Injured in Crash Involving Street Race


Shortly before 9 p.m. on Tuesday, December 25, 90-year-old Celia La Torre was killed and 72-year-old Jaime Ochoa was injured in a crash involving a street race in West Covina. According to witness accounts, a silver Mitsubishi Eclipse was racing a red Ford Escort southbound on Lark Ellen Avenue before the Eclipse ran a stop sign and crashed into the van in which La Torre and Ochoa were occupants. The impact ejected La Torre, who was on her way home from the hospital at the time, from her wheelchair and the van onto the sidewalk. Firefighters had to extricate Ochoa from the wreckage, and he was taken to an area hospital to receive treatment for head injuries. The driver of the Eclipse, 30-year-old Vincent Lopez, was also hospitalized. Authorities arrested Lopez and the driver of the Escort, Victor Hugo Sanchez, on suspicion of murder. Witnesses are asked to call the West Covina Police Department at 626-939-8500.

“When drivers harm others while violating traffic safety laws, they often face criminal charges and civil actions,” explained California car accident attorney James Ballidis, “as the state will punish them for violating its laws and the victims will hold them liable for injury or loss resulting from their negligence.”

In 2010, 482 people were killed or injured in traffic accidents in West Covina, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety’s most current records. Speed was a factor in 99 of the fatal and injury collisions that year, with West Covina ranking 16th out of 53 cities for speed-related accidents in a rating system in which 1st place is considered the worst.

All of us at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis, and Leslie would like to offer our condolences to the family of Celia La Torre. We would also like to wish a full recovery to Jaime Ochoa.

The Los Angeles Times originally reported this street racing crash.

Resources for accident victims and their families, such as books and articles on the injury and the wrongful death claims process, are available to the public free of charge through our office.

If you would like to request one of these free resources, or to speak with a California car accident attorney, feel free to call 866-981-5596.

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