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LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif--An out-of-state trucker ignored warning signs and used a forbidden mountain route before his brakes burned out on a steep grade and he smashed into cars and a bookstore in suburban Los Angeles, killing two and injuring a dozen others, authorities said Thursday.
The truck, which was hauling cars, had come over the rugged San Gabriel Mountains Wednesday on the Angeles Forest Highway, a narrow, winding county road which is off-limits to large trucks and used as a shortcut by commuters from the high desert north of Los Angeles.
The truck barreled down the road and the Angeles Crest Highway, a connecting state road, before crashing at a T-intersection where the state highway ends. The truck hit five cars and plowed into the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse.
The accident killed 12-year-old Angelina Posca and her father, Angel Jorge Posca, 58, of Palmdale. Their red Ford sedan was pushed through the intersection by the truck and crushed. A dozen other people were hurt, three critically.
An employee at the bookstore was hit by a piece of wood and received minor injuries. The truck also damaged an adjoining wine store and nail salon.
The driver, 43-year-old Marcos Costa of Massachusetts, drove the road "contrary to posted vehicle limitation signs," a Los Angeles County sheriff's statement said. He was treated for minor injuries and arrested late Wednesday for investigation of gross vehicular manslaughter and felony reckless driving. He remained jailed Thursday in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Signs are posted on the Angeles Forest Highway section banning semi-tractor trailers, although they are permitted on the wider Angeles Crest Highway, sheriff's Sgt. John Caffrey said.
The driver had come over the mountains from the Palmdale area of the desert, which has the signs, he said.
In September, a runaway truck plowed through a parking lot in the same block, injuring one person. That driver also came from out of state and was using a GPS unit that did not indicate the route was dangerous for big rigs, authorities said.
California Department of Transportation District Director Doug Failing said he did not know whether Costa also had been using a GPS system but said his agency was beginning to talk about the issue of getting GPS providers to indicate routes that are not advised for truckers. Failing said Caltrans had ordered new signs to warn truckers of the steep grade but they had not yet arrived.