Just past midnight on Tuesday, January 12, 2016, two family members lost their lives in a fatal car crash at the Pasadena downtown intersection of N. El Molino Avenue and E. Maple Street. The clear, chilly weather was not an accident factor during the early morning hours in the general area of Old Town Pasadena when the two vehicles collided.
A 19 year old unnamed female was driving a late model Kia, traveling west on East Maple Street towards the intersection with N. El Molino when her car collided with a 2005 Chevy Impala traveling north on N. El Molino. The driver of the Kia received moderate injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital. There was an unnamed 20 year old male passenger in the Kia who did not sustain any injuries, was not taken to a hospital, and was able to walk away from the accident scene.
There was a total of five people in the Impala. In the front seats were the driver, 42 year old, Maria Escobedo-Torres, a mother of four, and her 18 year old daughter, Vanessa Escobedo. Both succumbed to their injuries and died at the crash site. There were three unnamed passengers in the back seats who were all taken to a local hospital for treatment. A 41 year old female was described by authorities as having critical injuries while the 18 and 38 year old males were reported as having only minor injuries.
The police and fire departments were called to the scene by a 911 caller at 12:15 AM. The Pasadena police crime scene investigation team closed the intersection for more than eight hours while they gathered evidence and reconstructed the accident. While the investigation is still active, a police spokesman, Lt. Peter Hettema, stated that they could not rule out speed as a contributing factor, but that alcohol was not a factor. At this time, there have been no traffic citations issued and no arrests made regarding this fatality.
Burbank is the listed home of record for both Maria and Vanessa. Vanessa, just a few days short of her 19th birthday, was a senior at Rose City High School, which is located on Hudson Avenue, just about one mile from the accident scene. Devastated by the news, classmates and friends described Vanessa as a vivacious, friendly, and smart individual who was going to do good things with her life. Several classmates talked about Vanessa’s volunteer work in the community and that she was also taking extra classes at night.
Even though this tragedy occurred at the beginning of exam week, by the end of the day, students from her school had created a makeshift memorial for Vanessa and her mother at the crash site. They placed flowers, stuffed animals, and candles on the sidewalk at the intersection. The faculty and students of Rose City quickly established a GoFundMe account to help the Escobedo family with funeral expenses.
As a city in Los Angeles County, Pasadena has recently seen an improvement in its economy and has become a good place for homeowners, education, medical facilities, and commercial growth. There is a large immigrant population that had added a wonderful ethnic diversity to the area.
Pasadena is world renowned for its New Year’s Parade of Roses and Rose Bowl festivities. The city is a blend of early American historical landmarks, modern federal buildings, first class eateries, and tourist attractions. Just a short distance away from the crash site is Old Town Pasadena, a 22 block area that is a nationally registered Historic District with hundreds of specialty shops, restaurants, bistros, art works, farmers markets, and year round events and family activities.
Regardless of the local beauty within Pasadena, today, there are several families and many friends who are still in shock and who are struggling with the loss of Maria Escobedo-Torres and her daughter, Vanessa Escobedo.