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Services Set for Victims of Canyon Collision

Services will be held this week for the victims of last week’s double fatality car collision in Laguna Beach even as accident investigators re-inspect the accident scene and close a portion of Laguna Canyon Road today between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Also today, a 4 p.m. mass will be held at Santa Ana’s Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish for Alberto Casique-Salinas, 47, of Anaheim, the driver of the inbound vehicle involved in the head-on collision.

A visitation for his passenger, Armando Garcia Gonzales, 38, of Santa Ana, is set for Thursday, April 11, from 5 to 11 p.m. at Santa Ana’s Family Mortuary, director Tony Murcia said.

Police closed Laguna Canyon Road between El Toro Road and state Highway 73 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. today.

The Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team based in Irvine lacked a needed piece of gear during its initial inquiry of the 6:41 a.m. accident on Tuesday, April 2, Laguna Beach police Sgt. Louise Callus said.

Each team consists of investigators with specialized training in traffic collision reconstruction, traffic engineering, automotive engineering, and vehicle dynamics, according to a California Highway Patrol website.

Police are seeking the help of witnesses that might have observed the actions of two outbound vehicles, a black Tesla and a white Mercedes, allegedly involved in the 6:41 a.m. collision, she said. “That would absolutely be helpful,” she said, adding that both drivers underwent interviews with police investigators.

The driver of the Tesla, who suffered minor injuries in the accident, told police dispatchers “a white Mercedes cut him off, making him go into oncoming traffic” according to the police department’s log.

The Tesla’s owner is a Laguna Beach resident, while the owner of the Mercedes is not, said Callus, who declined to further identify the individuals. KTLA identified the Tesla’s owner as physician Robert Pettis. Efforts to reach him by telephone went unreturned.

Investigators are trying to determine whether racing or other factors contributed to the accident, Callus said, caused by the Tesla veering into southbound lanes and colliding head-on with the inbound Honda. “That’s what’s being investigated, to tie down what happened and why it happened.”

A collection was also started on behalf of the families of Casique and Garcia, who were en route together to their job in Laguna Beach, Callus said.

The two men worked for Stewart’s Landscaping, based in Laguna Canyon, said Liza Stewart, who described the company as saddened by the tragedy.

Donations to the collection begun by the police employees association can be mailed by check made out to the Alberto and Armando Memorial and sent to LBPEA, PO Box 4611, Laguna Beach, CA 92652.

 

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