A night out for a group of family and friends ended tragically early Saturday when their SUV veered off the 60 Freeway and rolled down an embankment, killing four and hospitalizing the other four aboard in a crash being investigated as a hit-and-run.
The victims killed were identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office as Lake Elsinore residents Noemi Herrera, 21, Elba Rosales, 26, Luis Herrera, 29, and Gerardo Herrera, 49.
Just after 5 a.m., the group of eight were riding in a 2003 Ford Explorer that seats seven, heading home to Lake Elsinore from from Universal Studios Hollywood Horror Nights. A family member said the outing was for an engaged couple and her in-laws to-be.
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As they were eastbound on the 60 Freeway near Reservoir Street in Pomona, the driver lost control and the SUV rolled over, California Highway Patrol Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said. Not everyone was wearing seatbelts. Six people were thrown from the SUV.
Four were killed and the four others were taken to hospitals in "moderate to major" conditions, according to the CHP. At least one of the people killed was wearing a seatbelt.
One man transferred to UC Irvine Medical Center was believed to be in the most severe condition, and two women and another man were transported Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, Jimenez said.
Jimenez called the crash a "tragedy," and said authorities did not believe alcohol or drugs played a factor in the crash. The passengers ages ranged between approximately 21 and 49-year-old.
Mourners gathered Saturday night to leave candles at the crash scene.
The driver, 25-year-old Elena Chavez from Lake Elsinore, said a white car may have clipped her, causing her to lose control of the car, according to CHP. With help from the Pomona Police Department, authorities searched the area for a white car, but had not located one as of Saturday evening.
As a result, Jimenez said they are investigating it as a hit-and-run crash.
Chavez's brother said she and Luis Herrera were taking his family members out for the night. She had studied to teach special needs students and Herrera worked construction. He did not survive. They have a 1-year-old son together.
Jimenez urged anyone with any information to please call California Highway Patrol Baldwin Park at 626-338-1164, and said, "any and all information can assist us."
"Wear your seatbelts when you're traveling on roads to keep yourself safe," Jimenez added. "If you're having a fun night, we don't want it to end up in a tragedy like this, we want you to get home safely."
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