3 Identified in Fatal Crash Near Aptos

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY (BCN) — The Santa Cruz County coroner’s office has released the names of three of the four people killed in Sunday’s tragic crash near the Aptos area while four others injured in the two-vehicle wreck remain hospitalized.

Arturo Avalos, 22, of Watsonville; Osbaldo Melgoza-Ortiz, 18, of Watsonville; and Teresita Brady, 19, of Soquel; were among the four killed in a Mercedes-Benz C320 that collided with a pickup truck, an employee of the coroner’s office said.

The fourth person in the Mercedes who died, a 16-year-old girl from Watsonville, is not being identified because she is a juvenile. Avalos was identified as the driver of the Mercedes, the coroner’s office employee said.

At about 8 p.m. Sunday, the Mercedes was heading west on Freedom Boulevard just west of Valencia Road when for some reason it veered into the eastbound lane and into the path of a Ford F-150 pickup truck, according to the California Highway Patrol.

CHP officials believe that Brady was in the front passenger seat of the Mercedes sitting on Melgoza-Ortiz’s lap and that others in the back seat may also have been seated on another’s lap in order to fit in the car.

None of the seven people inside the Mercedes was wearing safety belts and CHP officers found containers of liquor inside the car, officers said

Minutes prior to the collision, witnesses called 911 to report seeing the Mercedes being driven recklessly and that people could be seen hanging out of the car’s moon roof, according to the CHP.

Meanwhile, two of three people injured in the crash and hospitalized at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, the 56-year-old man who drove the pickup and a 17-year-old girl from Watsonville who was a passenger in the Mercedes, have shown improvement, CHP Officer Trista Sharp said.

The other injured person at Valley Medical Center, an 18-year-old girl from Marina who was also in the Mercedes, remains in critical condition. There is no update on a 21-year-old Watsonville man, also in the Mercedes, who was transported to Natividad Medical Center in Watsonville with critical injuries, according to Sharp.

The CHP’s investigation into the crash is ongoing but there were no new details immediately available today, Sharp said.

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