Sharon Renee Higgins, a 20-year-old UC Riverside student, and Otis Lee Hall, a 20-year-old Upland resident, had pulled to the right shoulder of the Pomona Freeway just before the 71 -- Higgins first, in her Mustang, and Hall right behind her, in his Lexus. That's when a big rig drifted over from the freeway, crushing everything in its path.
Investigators told ABC7 that one victim had probably been helping the other with an empty gas tank, as a gas can was recovered from the wreckage.
City News Service reports that 47-year-old big-rig driver Martin Llamas was not found to have been drinking at the time, but that "the investigation [is] continuing into why [he] allowed the truck to drift onto the right shoulder." Although the truck flipped onto its roof after plowing through the Mustang and Lexus -- to the extent that it had to be overturned by a CHP crane -- Llamas suffered only minor injuries.
One of the 20-year-old victims was killed on the shoulder itself, while one was thrown to his or her death onto Garey Avenue below.
According to Higgins' Facebook, she's from Richmond (in NorCal) and studies African American Studies at UC Riverside. She describes herself as a "black feminist" and a dancer. That's her in the middle:
Hall appears to be a graduate of Upland High School in Upland, California, where he was a top-ranked player on the varsity football team. If you knew Hall or have any more information about him, feel free to contact us or comment below.
ABC7 says the hit was so brutal that the CHP's usual advice might not have made a difference:
The CHP wants to remind drivers to remain in their vehicles if their cars become disabled and they're forced to go to the shoulder. But authorities said in this case the impact was so severe, the two victims likely would not have survived even if they'd followed that advice.
Footage of all three crumpled vehicles this morning:
The freeway reopened at 7 a.m.