By DAVID SCHOLZ
A third person who was asleep in the back seat of a car involved in a fatal crash last weekend is expected to survive, according to Pleasant Hill Police Department (PHPD).
Pleasant Hill Police Officer Scott Vermillion said Maria Hernandez, 79, of Mexico City, is expected to survive. She escaped the crash with serious injuries.
Investigators had hoped she could shed some light on the cause of the accident when they interviewed her.
Her fellow occupants of the vehicle, driver Emilio Lopez, 69, and Maria Lopez, 68, were seriously injured in the crash on northbound Interstate 680 at the Contra Costa Boulevard offramp in Pleasant Hill Sunday evening. The pair, both Pleasant Hill residents, died later at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek.
Pleasant Hill Police officers responded to a report of the collision near the I-680 offramp at approximately 8:05 p.m. Jan. 3. The involved vehicle turned over and tumbled after colliding with the K rail.
Other vehicles were hit in the course of the crash but they were not a contributing factor in the accident.
While no official cause of the accident has been determined, Vermillion said it is believed “speed is a factor.’’
“Preliminarily, we are not thinking alcohol was involved, but we are waiting on toxicology reports to confirm that,’’ he added.
The accident also prompted the first activation of the PHPD’s involvement with the Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT). The team includes the cities of Martinez, Walnut Creek and San Ramon; Pleasant Hill joined last year.
“We are very satisfied with the help we got with the regional team,’’ said Vermillion. “It helped tremendously with the investigation.’’