Traffic Collision Takes the Life of Mother And Two Young Daughters NR12410kr

August 29, 2012

Los Angeles:  A two-car collision early Wednesday morning killed three people and critically injured a fourth.

On August 29, 2012, around 7:20 a.m., a 2004 Infinity that for unknown reasons, was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of Highland Avenue when it collided with the left side of a 2002 Dodge Caravan traveling north on Highland Avenue and making a left turn onto Willoughby Avenue.

The driver of the Caravan, 27-year-old Saida Juana Mendez-Bernardino, a resident of Los Angeles was driving her 4-year-old daughter, Stephanie Cruz, and 6-year-old daughter Hilda Cruz, to school. All three were critically injured.  Hilda died at scene.  Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics transported Saida and Stephanie to a local hospital where they died a short time later.

The driver of the Infinity, a 74 year-old man, a resident of Lawndale, was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.  Detectives do not believe drugs or alcohol were a factor in the collision.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact West Traffic Detectives, Detective Stephanie Banks at 213-473-0227. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).  Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone.  All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.”  Tipsters may also go to, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.