Bay Area students killed in crash

February 20, 2009 6:13:02 PM PST
A crash killed six San Francisco residents, including five foreign national students, on southbound U.S. Highway 101 in Santa Barbara County on Thursday night, according to the California Highway Patrol.

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The crash was reported at about 6:35 p.m. on Highway 101 south of Los Alamos where a 19-year-old woman was driving a 1993 Toyota Land Cruiser en route from San Francisco to Los Angeles with six passengers.

The Land Cruiser drifted out of the left lane of the highway and into the dirt center divider, after which the woman apparently overcorrected and lost control, according to the CHP.

The vehicle traveled off the right side of the highway and began to roll over when it impacted a large cottonwood tree, according to the CHP. Two people were ejected from the vehicle, while the driver and four passengers remained inside.

The vehicle caught fire and was engulfed in flames when a retired Kings County firefighter stopped and was able to assist the driver out of the Land Cruiser. She is listed in serious condition at a local hospital, according to the CHP.

The remaining four passengers, along with the two people ejected, died at the scene.

The CHP said all seven people in the car were from San Francisco, and all but one of the passengers who died were foreign national students.

CHP Officer Eliseo Alarcon said that more than one of the students attended the Embassy Center for English Studies in San Francisco.

A director for the school said she had received word that some of their students were recently involved in a crash but could not confirm if it was the fatal crash in Santa Barbara County.

The dead passengers include a 30-year-old man, two 25-year-old women, two 20-year-old women, and an 18-year-old woman, Alarcon said. The identities are being withheld pending notification of next of kin, according to the Santa Barbara County coroner's bureau.

An investigation is being conducted by the CHP Coastal Division Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team based in San Luis Obispo.

Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash, according to the CHP. The investigation will determine whether the passengers were wearing seatbelts.

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