Los Angeles: A man driving a black Nissan 300 ZX plowed into the Salvador El Mundo Medical Clinic after he lost control during an apparent day-light road race on Vermont Boulevard. Thirteen persons were injured, mostly women and at least two children.
Police are trying to determine whether the incident was a case of road rage or street racing.
Three persons were treated and released by the Los Angeles Fire Department for minor injuries at 8301 South Vermont Avenue. Ten other persons were transported to local hospitals, including Martin Luther King, USC Medical Center, California Hospital, Daniel Freeman Memorial, and Harbor General Hospital. The most seriously injured were two elderly women who each lost a portion of a leg below the knee.
Witnesses reported seeing two cars racing south on Vermont Avenue from Gage Boulevard, just before 10 AM. As the white Lincoln Town Car and black Nissan approached 83rd Street, both cars tried to move into the number two lane. The Lincoln struck the Nissan. It is unclear whether the collision pushed the car into the medical clinic, or whether the driver of the Nissan tried to turn right at the intersection.
The Nissan's driver was taken to USC Medical Center. He was identified as 33-year-old Ijumaa Owens of Hawthorne. Initial tests did not indicate he was under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. He had complained-of injuries only.
The occupants of the white Lincoln Town Car were described as two black men. The Lincoln had tinted windows and collision damage to the right front of the car. The car had no license plates.
"We appreciate the witnesses' help in giving us the information in this case," said Lieutenant Paul Vernon, LAPD spokesperson. "There is a good chance that some one knows who the Lincoln Town Car belongs to. We'd really like to know who they are."
The driver of the Lincoln could face felony hit-and-run charges. Owens could face felony reckless driving charges. Should anyone die, the charges would be increased to vehicular manslaughter.
Anyone with information is asked to call South Traffic Division at 213-485-7336. On weekends and during off-hours, call the 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL (529-3855).