Lodi was reeling on Wednesday from the worst fatal crash in the city’s recent history, as police confirmed that six members of one local family perished in a horrific collision on Ham Lane on Tuesday night. The only family member to survive is a 9-year-old boy, who is still in critical condition at a nearby hospital.
Police had not yet made any arrests in the crash on Wednesday evening, but they have served two search warrants, and witnesses said the crash was caused by a driver who sped down Ham Lane at speeds they estimated at 80 miles per hour while talking on a cell phone.
Also Wednesday, schools officials reached out to the Lodi Middle School and Heritage Elementary School campuses, where three of those who died in the crash attended class.
The Mexican consulate in Sacramento released the names of the victims; however, Lodi police didn’t confirm their identities.
Those who died:
- Stephanie Miranda, 4, a kindergartner at Heritage.
- Jose Miranda, 5, a first-grader at Heritage.
- Irving Miranda, 11, a student at Lodi Middle School.
- Luis Miranda, 30.
- Vivian Rodriguez, 31, and her unborn child.
Nine-year-old Eden Miranda is being treated at a local hospital, Lodi police said Wednesday night.
The death toll rose to six after Lodi police announced Wednesday that a passenger in one of the vehicles had died while being treated at a local hospital Tuesday night.
An additional four people were transported to area hospitals, where three underwent surgery, said Lodi Police Lt. Sierra Brucia. Two others were treated at the scene and released.
In all, 12 people were either killed or injured in the crash, which involved six cars at the intersection of Ham Lane and Vine Street around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Brucia said that it could be “quite a while” before police and the District Attorney’s office decide whether to file charges against anybody involved in the crash.
“There types of investigations are very lengthy and take a long time to complete,” he said.
But a witness who saw the collision says one man who was talking on his cellphone and driving “faster than freeway speeds” caused the wreck. The crash also has nearby neighbors begging the city to do something to prevent more deaths at a dangerous intersection.
Yula Ocampo, a 15-year-old niece of the victims, visited the intersection Wednesday afternoon to lay flowers at the crash site and mourn the loss of her family members. She said she and her siblings did not find out about the collision until they got home from school Wednesday.
She said Luis Miranda was her father’s uncle, and added that her parents and siblings, as well as the rest of the family, are angered by the entire incident.
“The family is mad,” she said. “It’s not fair that the man who caused the accident is in the hospital, while my cousins and aunt and uncle are dead.”
The intersection of Ham Lane and Vine Street has been the scene of several wrecks in recent years, including another fatal crash in July.
Mayor Alan Nakanishi, who is currently in Japan touring Lodi’s sister city of Kofu, heard about the deadly crash Tuesday night.
“I was very saddened,” he said. “It’s the worst thing that’s happened to Lodi this year. I’m very saddened for the loss — especially for the pregnant lady and the children who died. It’s a black day for the city.”
Ironically, Nakanishi himself was in a collision on Ham Lane in 2007, but there were no significant injuries.
Catherine Pennington, Lodi Unified School District’s assistant superintendent of elementary education, confirmed that Irving Miranda attended Lodi Middle School, where he participated in an afterschool program and played on the school’s soccer team.
“He was a very well-liked young man,” Pennington said. “He was a very good student.”
Kindergartner Stephanie Miranda and first-grader Jose Miranda attended Heritage Elementary.
Nine-year-old Eden Miranda, the only family member to survive the crash, also attends Heritage.
Pennington said that a crisis team was sent to Lodi Middle School on Wednesday morning, and the team headed to Heritage on Wednesday afternoon.
Residents living near the intersection recalled hearing an explosion at the time the cars collided.
Valery Tingey looked out her front door, saw the glass, the mangled cars and the blood, and raced to the scene. Inside a pickup, a family didn’t move. She saw a young boy slumped over the dashboard, a father hanging out of a window.
Tingey reached over to check his pulse. Nothing.
“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” she said.
Lodi News-Sentinel reporters Todd Wilson and Wes Bowers contributed to this report.