Mother Killed, Children Injured, Husband Arrested in Wrong-Way Freeway Crash in Encino

The crash snarled traffic on the 101 Freeway for hours Thursday.

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The brother of a woman killed in a wrong-way crash on the 101 Freeway in Encino said Friday that his sister was concerned about her husband who was behind the wheel, survived and faces murder charges in the crash.

The crash was reported at 7:10 p.m. at the 101 near the San Diego (405) Freeway, after the driver crashed head-on into a big rig, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Juan Zavala said that the last time he spoke with his sister, Aimee Guadalupe Garcia, 25, she called him from the car, scared and concerned about her husband, Cesar Iban Torres, 31, who was behind the wheel.

"He was speaking nonsense, saying that God gave them power to destroy the world, that God asked him to give his family to him," Zavala said.

Just hours after that phone call, Torres entered the 101 Freeway in Encino into oncoming traffic, crashing into a big rig.

Aimee was killed.

Cesar and the couple’s four children, ages 8 to 18 months, survived. They were taken to a hospital as a precaution, police said. The driver of the big rig, Jose Garcia Lopez, 56, had only minor injuries and was treated at the scene.


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"The oldest suffered more of the trauma because he’s seen everything happen," Zavala said. "He seen the state of his mother and how his dad fled the scene."

After the crash, CHP officers say they had to tase Torres because he attacked officers.

Garcia’s family is trying to make sense of what happened.

"While I was talking to him, I could hear my sister, 'Please, please drive slow. I’m scared," he said.

Zavala believes the crash was not an accident.

"It’s sad to know that my sister gave up her life for her kids, to stay quiet, just to maintain a happy home when it was actually not happy," he said.

The family is speaking with investigators as they try to raise money to support Aimee’s four children and bring her mother to the United States.

Zavala says he wishes he could’ve done more to help his sister and has a message for his brother-in-law.

"You are responsible for taking my sister’s life away and leaving your children without a mother and father," he said. "Thank God, I’m here as a good uncle and a good older brother. I will take responsibility for my nephews because that’s what my sister wanted to do."

Torres was arrested and is now in jail, facing charges of first-degree murder and resisting arrest.

It is unknown whether alcohol or drugs were involved.

All except the first lane of the southbound Ventura Freeway were blocked as paramedics assessed patients, according to the CHP. By 2:30 a.m. on Friday, all lanes were reopened.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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