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3 killed, several injured when car strikes crowd outside Calif. church

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. — A driver suspected of being intoxicated hit a group of pedestrians and another car outside a Southern California church as a Christmas service ended, killing three people and injuring several others including five children, police said.

Margo Bronstein, 56, was arrested after the crash Wednesday night on suspicion of driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter, Redondo Beach police Lt. Shawn Freeman said.

Five children and eight adults, including the suspect and the other driver, suffered injuries including broken bones, abrasions and head trauma, Freeman said. Three of the adults later died.

At least two people remained in critical condition Thursday morning, Freeman said.

Ambulances rushed some of the pedestrians to hospitals, and others were able to drive themselves, officials said.

Police identified the women killed as Mary Anne Wilson, 81; Saeko Matsumura, 87; and Martha Gaza, 36, all of Torrance.

A woman was driving a white sedan north when she ran a red light, plowed into the pedestrians and then hit another vehicle.

“The crosswalk was full and the light was red,” witness Marco Zonno told KNBC-TV. “Someone ran the red light, and bodies started flying. It was pretty horrible.”

Alan Wells, who lives in the apartment building at the corner, heard the crash and ran outside to help.

“I saw people lying all over the street, and people in the crosswalk were screaming and yelling,” he told the Daily Breeze. “I could see a little boy underneath the SUV.”

Msgr. Michael Meyers, pastor of St. James Catholic Church, said church officials led prayers at the scene along the Pacific Coast Highway.

“Nobody knew the condition of any of the victims so we simply went and prayed for each one and prayed over them and anointed them and just asked God’s grace to be with them,” Meyers said.

Police took Bronstein to a hospital, where she was treated for unknown injuries and then arrested. Authorities were investigating whether she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

She was held on $300,000 bail and scheduled to appear in court on Friday. It wasn’t immediately known if she has an attorney.

The crash comes three days after another driver now charged with drunken driving injured 11 people who were parked and looking at a holiday light display in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra.

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