2 children killed retrieving luggage on California freeway

ByAllie Weintraub ABCNews logo
Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Two children were fatally struck by a car on Sunday after running into traffic on a freeway in San Diego County, California, authorities said.

The driver of a green GMC Yukon going eastbound on state Route 78 pulled over to the right shoulder of the freeway in Vista, and a 10-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl went on foot into traffic, according to a press release from the California Highway Patrol. Vista fire officials told ABC station KABC that a mother was traveling with her children when a piece of luggage flew off their car and the two children ran into traffic to retrieve it.

The children were hit by a white Nissan Sentra in the No. 3 lane around 6 p.m., CHP officials said. Police and fire officials responded to the collision, and the children were pronounced dead at the scene.

The Yukon's driver, identified by the CHP as 33-year-old Sandra Ortiz of Vista, was arrested on felony charges of driving under the influence, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and child endangerment in connection with the incident, officials said.

Ortiz was booked into Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility in Santee, California, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department website. She is being held on $500,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday at 1:30 p.m. It was not immediately clear if Ortiz had legal representation.

The 41-year-old driver of the Sentra, who was not identified, remained on the scene and did not report any injuries, CHP officials said. The roadway was affected until around 9:30 p.m. as the scene was investigated.

State Route 78 stretches 215 miles from Oceanside east to Blythe in Southern California.

Police are still investigating the incident and are asking anyone with information to contact the Oceanside Area California State Highway Patrol.

On Monday, the victims' family issued a statement to San Diego ABC affiliate KGTV, reading: "Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the tragic loss of our beloved children, Amy and Alan."

Amy, 16, had been an aspiring chef, who loved to bake and prepare meals for her siblings. She is remembered for her warmth and generosity, the family shared in the statement.

Alan, 10, was known for his kind and compassionate nature. He dreamed of becoming an architect, according to the family.

"Your continued support and prayers are deeply valued as we try to find strength and honor the memories of our beloved children," the statement concluded.