A 56-year-old woman, who had just celebrated her birthday at Disneyland, is the alleged driver who plowed into a group of churchgoers who were leaving a Christmas concert, killing four and 10 more people, including five children. The suspect has been identified as Margo Bronstein. The crash happened on the night of December 17 in Redondo Beach, California.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She’s Obsessed With Disney
According to Bronstein’s Facebook page, she is infatuated by all things Disney. On December 16, she posted pics of her and her friends visiting Disneyland in Anaheim, California, for her birthday. Just hours before the crash in Redondo Beach, Bronstein posted this video to Facebook:
She wrote on Facebook about her trip:
I wanted to thank everyone from the Facebook posts to the several friends who I got to see at Disneyland. My birthday was special as much as you all are to me. Love you all!! And Jeff, thank you again for making the meet up happen. I will treasure that time.
On her page it shows that she is friends with several of the actors who play characters at the theme park. In 2013, she visited Disneyworld in Orlando. A friend of Margo’s, Scott Hoagland, told Heavy.com that her obsession with Disney was born out of the fact that Margo was “always in pain” and Disney “keeps her from focusing on the pain.”
2. One of the Victims Was Carried on the Hood Until the Driver Crashed Into an SUV
At around 8 p.m. local time in California, is believed to have run a red light close to St. James Catholic Church in Redondo Beach along Vincent Street. The injured had entered a crosswalk when they were hit. After the churchgoers were hit, the driver kept going until the driver collided with an SUV on Pacific Coast Highway. A victim was carried by the car on the hood from the front of the church until the crash with the SUV. One of the injured people was still being carried by the car when it was headed to the highway. One witness told NBC Los Angeles:
The crosswalk was full and the light was red. Someone ran a red light and… bodies started flying. It was pretty horrible. They flew at least two or three cars down the street, it was pretty bad. But I’m hoping everybody’s going to be OK.
Sgt. Shawn Freeman of the Redondo Beach Police Department said in a statement:
Preliminary information provided to RBPD is that a motor vehicle drove north bound on Pacific Coast Highway through the intersection of Vincent Street, striking several pedestrians, the vehicle continued driving, ultimately colliding head on into another vehicle.
NBC Los Angeles reports that majority of those injured are children. A witness, Jana Sigler, told the station:
Mostly children, like 8 to 10 year old. Yeah, its so sad, and most of them are really hurt bad. They already took a bunch of them to hospital, mostly head injuries.
Many of the victims are seriously hurt, according to the station. CBS Los Angeles reports that five of the victims are children, ranging in age from 5 to 14. The injuries suffered include broken legs, head trauma, bruised lungs and a broken collar bone.
St. James Catholic Church remained open to the public all night after the crash so that its parishioners could pray for the injured, reports KTLA.
3. Two of the Victims Are Elderly Church Goers
Two of the people who died in the crash have been named as Mary Anne Wilson, 81, and Saeko Matsumura, 87, reports the Los Angeles Times. Both are from Torrance, California. The third victim was later named as 36-year-old Martha Gaza, reports NBC Los Angeles. Gaza’s husband and children were injured in the crash. Her son, Samuel, 6, died the day after the accident after suffering head trauma and a bruised lung.
4. She Uses an Electronic Scooter to Get Around
The Los Angeles Times reports that Bronstein was required to drive with modifications to her car due to her disability. These included hand-controlled brakes and she drove with an additional right-side mirror. A source who knows Bronstein told Heavy.com that the accident was severely “out-of-character” for Bronstein and acknowledged that Bronstein was disabled. Her Facebook photos show her using an electronic scooter to get around. According to her Facebook page, Bronstein is a native of Chicago but lives in Redondo Beach. Her friend, Scott Hoagland, told Heavy.com that she was a “strong lifetime Christian.”
5. Bronstein Had Prescription Medication in Her System
Bronstein, 56, was taken to hospital for injuries she suffered in the crash, reports KTLA. She is charged with manslaughter and driving under the influence. Her bail has been set at $300,000. Lt. Joe Hoffman told the media that “At the very minimum, prescription medication is involved.”