FURNACE CREEK, Calif. — Two French teens were killed and five other French nationals were injured when the driver of their van fell asleep, causing the vehicle to veer off the road and roll over, the California Highway Patrol said Sunday.
The accident occurred Saturday morning on State Route 190 in California’s Death Valley National Park, about 100 miles west of Las Vegas, Capt. Tim Lepper said.
The French consul in Los Angeles, David Martinon, said the group was traveling from Las Vegas to California’s Death Valley National Park.
The driver of the rented passenger van, 31-year-old Nassera Soudani of Levallois Perret, France, probably will be charged with vehicular manslaughter, Lepper said.
“She admitted to being tired and falling asleep,” he said. “It’s a very desolate area out there. You drive for miles and miles before you see anything other than landscape.”
The two girls killed in the crash were identified as 17-year-old Leah Baldaccini of Due Plateau De Rhodes, France, and 16-year-old Orane Pozzo Di Borgo of Marseille, France, the California Highway Patrol said. The four other teenagers were injured, two of them seriously.
Soudani, who suffered a broken jaw, fell asleep while driving in the desert, woke up when the vehicle ran off the road, then overcorrected by turning the steering wheel in the other direction, the California Highway Patrol said.
At least three passengers were ejected when the van rolled over. Only one of the passengers was wearing a seat belt.
One victim was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other passengers were taken to University Medical Center and Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, authorities said.
The most seriously injured victim, a 15-year-old, “should make it,” Martinon said.
The van was traveling in a convoy of three vehicles carrying about 20 people in total. The van was the middle vehicle in the convoy.