- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 21, 2003

BARSTOW, Calif., Jan. 21 (UPI) — Nine people were killed and five were injured in two separate traffic collisions that occurred on California highways less than 12 hours apart.

The California Highway Patrol Tuesday was investigating an overnight head-on crash that killed five outside Barstow Monday night and a three-vehicle accident Tuesday morning that left four dead near Napa.

Tuesday's deadly crash occurred around 7:30 a.m. PST when a GEO Prism apparently clipped an oncoming car while rounding a curve on Highway 121. The Prism spun into the oncoming lane and was struck by a sport utility vehicle.

All four victims in the Prism died while the drivers of the other two vehicles suffered minor injuries, according to the CHP.

CHP investigators in Southern California were unsure Tuesday who was going the wrong way when two vehicles collided head-on near Barstow, leaving five dead and three injured.

Both drivers died in the collision between a pickup truck and a van on Highway 395, 25 miles outside the desert crossroads that marks the approximate halfway point between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

The crash remained under investigation and the CHP had not determined whether it was the van carrying a Ridgecrest family or the pickup driven by an Orange County man that was at fault.

The CHP could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday, however the Orange County Register reported that the driver of the pickup had been identified as 25-year-old Juan Zelaya of Tustin. Zelaya was killed in the wreck while two juveniles in his truck were injured, including one who was in a coma and the other who was described as seriously injured.

Mukhtar Ahmad, 36, and his wife, Shahnaz Bibi, were killed in the van along with their daughters, Kanza and Mussarat. An 18-month-old daughter was hospitalized with a broken leg.

(Reported by Hil Anderson in Los Angeles)

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