Seven children and two adult drivers have been killed in a devastating New Year’s Day head-on collision.
The children, who were aged between six and 15, were members of two related families traveling in a 2007 Ford in Central California before it collided with another car about 8pm (local time).
The car hit a Dodge while travelling on State Route 33 between Avenal and Coalinga, the Fresno County Coroner’s office and the California Highway Patrol said.
Evidence from the scene indicated the Dodge was driven by a 28-year-old man driving southbound when it veered onto the dirt shoulder for an unknown reason, the CHP said.
The driver then overcorrected and swerved into the southbound lane, where it struck the Ford, which was being driven by a woman.
The Ford burst into flames on the dirt shoulder, while the Dodge came to a stop straddling both lanes of the highway, the CHP said.
Eight passengers killed, including seven children
All eight people inside the Ford were killed, including the seven children.
According to local ABC30 news five of the victims were a mother and her four children. The other three victims were also siblings.
Officials said that it is unlikely that all of the victims were wearing seatbelts as there weren’t enough of them in the Ford for all of the passengers.
The driver of the Dodge was identified as Daniel Luna of Avenal. He is believed to have died on impact.
The coroner’s office said they are working on officially identifying the victims in the Ford.
Heartbroken relatives set up fundraising pages
Grieving relatives of the victims have since established online fundraising pages to support the affected families.
They identified those that had died in the crash as Gabriela Verdin, Brooke Pulido, Giada Pulido, Jonah Pulido, Mia Pulido, Daniella Ayala, Camila Ayala, and Anthony Ayala.
“While we cannot begin to understand the reason we lost them all at once, we are burdened with the reality of having to lay eight family members to rest at one time,” part of the page reads.
More than $45,000 has been raised for the families in less than 24 hours.
With Associated Press
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