Commerce, CA : Local man and woman killed in crash on Interstate 5 early Saturday morning, February 27, 2016
Two of three people killed in a crash in Commerce that's being blamed on freeway racing lived in Valencia and worked at Six Flags Magic Mountain, sources said Sunday.
Michelle Littlefield, 19, and Brian Lewandowski, 18, both of Valencia, died as a result of injuries suffered in a crash on Interstate 5 early Saturday morning. The fatal traffic collision occurred southbound on Interstate 5 north of Triggs Street in the city of Commerce, according to the CHP.
“Tragically, three lives were lost,” Sheriff’s Department Deputy Sara Rodriguez wrote in a news release issued Sunday. “One of those lives was that of 18-year-old Brian Lewandowski.”
A UPS truck drive from Mira Loma was also killed in the crash, his brother told a television news station. But Los Angeles County Coroner’s Lt. Larry Dietz said Sunday the man’s body had not been officially identified, citing fire-related injuries that are making identification difficult.
Gigi Littlefield, the deceased woman's mother, was struggling with the tragic news, she told The Signal Sunday.
“This should never have happened,” she said.
Michelle Littlefield and three of her co-workers, including Lewandowski, were on their way home from a day at Disneyland when the crash occurred. The two surviving co-workers, both young men, were taken to the hospital.
“We knew immediately something happened when she didn’t come home,” Gigi Littlefield said. “We tried to find out.”
Littlefield said her daughter, her only child, was a straight-A student from West Ranch High School and never missed a day of work at Six Flags in the two years she worked there.
“She never drank. She was a good girl, a responsible girl,” she said, noting her daughter was enrolled in business classes at College of the Canyons and had applied to attend California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo to study business there.
“She went to Cal Poly just two weeks ago,” Littlefield said. “She had so many dreams, so many plans.”
Michelle Littlefield and Brian Lewandowski were both enrolled at College of the Canyons for the spring 2016 semester, college spokesman Eric Harnish said Sunday. Her major was accounting; his was computer science, Harnish said.
Brian Lewandowski is survived by his parents, Jocelyn and Victor Lewandowski, and two brothers. Brian’s father is a homicide lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
According to a man who worked with both victims at Six Flags, both also worked at the Santa Clarita Valley amusement park.
An official statement issued Sunday by Six Flags officials reads:
“The Six Flags Magic Mountain family was saddened to learn about two of their team members who were tragically killed in the I-5 freeway incident in Commerce, Calif., on Feb. 27. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.”
The Lewandowski family issued the following statement regarding the loss of their beloved son Brian Lewandowski:
“Brian was an incredible young man and every parent’s dream for a son. We are absolutely devastated by our loss. Our hearts go out to the other victims and their families and our prayers are for the survivors’ recovery. We are very thankful for the love and support of family and friends throughout this time.”
The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fatal traffic collision was ongoing. Anyone with information regarding the collision was encouraged to contact Officers Fonseca or Flores at the California Highway Patrol East Los Angeles Office at 323-980-4600.
CHP investigators say the crash was caused by two peole racing on the I-5. A driver identified as Dealio Lockhart, 35, of Whittier was driving a Dodge Challenger southbound on the freeway north of Triggs Street in the No. 2 lane while racing a Dodge Charger traveling in the No. 1 lane of the southbound I-5, according to a report issued by CHP Officer D. Peniche.
Lockhart observed a slower-moving vehicle ahead and attempted to go around the vehicle at the same time the drivere of the slower-moving vehicle was attempting to move to the right, Peniche said. Lockhart reportedly applied his brakes, lost control of his vehicle and slammed into the left side of a UPS tractor trailer traveling in the No. 4 lane.
The impact caused the tractor trailer to lose control and collide into the center median and then become airborne, hitting a gray Nissan and shearing the top of the Nissan off, the CHP officer said in the report.
The tractor trailer continued out of control and came to rest on top of a red Ford Explorer that had been traveling northbound on the I-5 north of Washington Boulevard.
The tractor trailer immediately became engulfed in flames, Peniche said in the CHP report.
Debris from the collision struck a fifth and sixth vehicle that had been traveling on the northbound side of the freeway.
Littlefield and Lewandowski had been in the Nissan and were declared dead at the scene. Also killed was the driver of the truck. The two other occupants of the Nissan were transported to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center with major injuries, Peniche said.
Lockhart was arrested shortly before 1:30 a.m. Saturday and booked by the CHP in East Los Angeles, according to information maintained by the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Inmate Information Center.
Although the arrest documents do not name the specific criminal charge, they show Lockhart was
arrested on suspicion of committing a felony criminal offense.
He remains in custody at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility and is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday with bail set at $1 million.
UPDATE: Local man and woman killed in Commerce crash