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Authorities identify woman killed in triple fatal Mother’s Day crash on I-10 in Whitewater


A 31-year-old woman who was killed with two young girls in a crash on eastbound Interstate 10 in the Whitewater area was identified today.

The Riverside County coroner's office identified her as Cecilia Villalobos of Anaheim. Two young girls, identified only as 8- and 12-year-old Anaheim residents, also died at the crash site.

The crash was reported at 7:27 a.m. Sunday in the eastbound lanes near Haugen Lehmann Way, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.   

A 31-year-old Indio man was driving a 2022 black Tesla Model 3 eastbound on I-10 near Haugen Lehmann in the No. 3 lane as a 39-year-old man from Anaheim was driving a 2001 Chevrolet Suburban the same direction in the No. 2 lane, according to California Highway Patrol public information officer Jason Montez.   

"For reasons unknown and under investigation, the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Suburban crashed into one another causing the driver of the Chevrolet Suburban to lose control, subsequently causing it to crash into the center divider,'' Montez said in a statement. "The Chevrolet then overturned ejecting six occupants, and partially ejecting one party."  

The SUV occupants -- all of whom were related, and all Anaheim residents -- were not all buckled in, according to Montez.   

Villalobos was pronounced dead at 8:10 a.m. and the two young girls at 8:25 a.m., according to the county coroner's office.   

Four other occupants of the SUV -- a 3-year-old girl, a 7-year-old girl, an 11-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy -- suffered major injuries, Montez said. The driver suffered moderate injuries and a 41-year-old front passenger suffered minor injuries.

The driver and sole occupant of the Tesla was uninjured, he said. An air ambulance carried two victims to a trauma center, where they were treated for major injuries.

All Interstate 10 eastbound lanes in the area of the crash were closed until 3:30 p.m.  

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.   

"The California Highway Patrol would like to remind you to only drive a vehicle with a safety belt/child safety seat for every occupant and always buckle up,'' Montez said.

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