By Mary O’KEEFE
The Angeles Crest Highway in the Angeles National Forest has a lot of winding roads where many accidents occur. Emergency responders who work the area know all too well how a day out in the forest can end in tragedy.
This week one of those trips to the forest ended tragically when three teens were found to have gone over the side of the highway.
The three Fontana teens were reported missing Sunday after they did not return from a trip to the ANF.
“The team left Sunday [to search] and we went up on Monday,” said Janet Henderson, Montrose Search and Rescue team member. “We looked at some skid marks we found at mile marker 40. They were long.”
Henderson and the MSR team are very familiar with the Crest and when something looks off they notice it.
Henderson said it appeared that a vehicle’s tires hit the berm because there were marks in the dirt. When they looked over the side it was apparent there was an impact but they could not see a vehicle.
“Right off the road we saw one little piece of white plastic,” she said.
Because of that, the skid marks and the way the vegetation was affected, the team contacted LASD Air Rescue 5.
Air 5 responded and at first couldn’t see anything amiss from the air, but when it went down farther into the canyon, the crew saw the missing teens’ truck. It was about 800 feet over the side of the highway and MSR members were unable to hike down.
“Air 5 inserted a paramedic and found the [victims],” she said.
The location was very difficult to get to; the vegetation is thick and very dry.
California Highway Patrol received the call on Monday about 5:30 p.m.
“We have nothing yet on the cause of the accident,” said Officer Ryan Bejar.
He explained CHP wants to make certain they get answers for the family but added the investigation would take time.
Due to the area it was difficult to get to the three victims when they were discovered on Monday. Medics stayed in the area overnight and the three bodies were recovered on Tuesday.
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office has released the names of the victims: Kasey Vance, 18, Daniel Gamboa, 19, and Samantha Ornelas 17.
The fatal accident was near the same area where the body of a missing La Crescenta woman was found in her vehicle in January of this year and where another accident occurred involving two young people. In that case they were found injured.