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Driver In July 4 Fatal Crash Found At Fault, DA Considering Case

khts_crime_genericThe driver of an Infiniti sedan that struck and killed a Newhall mother watching July 4 fireworks near the mall has been found at fault in the fatal accident, according to the sheriff’s report of the accident.

Melissa Bridgitte Brown, 22, told officers that she ran the red light before striking a Dodge Durango van driven by Philip Harper Anderson that was turning left into the Kohl’s shopping center.

In the collision, Brown’s vehicle was propelled into a crowd of people gathered on the sidewalk in front of the Islands restaurant. Matilde Juarez Garnica, 43, was pronounced dead at the scene. Seven other people were injured and taken to area hospitals for treatment.

Witness statements and video provided by several people in the crowd of fireworks viewers show Brown running the red light before striking Anderson’s SUV.


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Detective Jeff Maag of the Santa Clarita Valley station said that he spoke with the local District Attorney staff and will be meeting with their office in San Fernando next week for possible criminal filings against Brown.

According to the report, she was not using her cell phone, nor were alcohol or drugs suspected to have influenced her driving.

In a separate incident that occurred Sunday morning on Soledad Canyon Road near Gailxy in Canyon Country, a 47-year old man who was driving a Suburban that hit the curb and struck and killed 15-year-old Eric Gilhooley remains hospitalized with a possible concussion. Maag said that the man continues to have severe headaches that may be related to a medical condition. His identity was not released.

Maag also said that his investigation showed that the driver did not apply the brakes before hitting Gilhooley and did not seem to be in control of the car. He added that Gilhooley appeared to be walking westbound with his back to the approaching vehicle and was hit from behind.

Both accident scenes were examined and some re-enactment done to help with the investigations.