DUI driver kills 3, injures 9 among churchgoers leaving Christmas show

by Staff, |
St. James Catholic Church | StJamesParish.org

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (Christian examiner) -- Three people are dead after a driver ran a red light and drove into a small group of pedestrians standing outside of a southern California church at about 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to reports. The group had been exiting a Christmas performance at St. James Catholic Church when tragedy struck.

One person died not long after the accident, and the other two died in the hospital, NBC news reported. The three fatalities among the victims have been identified as Saeko Matsumura, 81, Mary Wilson, 81, and Martha Gaza, 36. All were residents of Torrance, Calif.

Gaza's husband and three children were hurt in the crash as well as five others -- all were taken to local hospitals.

"They were doing all their Christmas songs for their parents and everybody was just leaving the church, so it was a huge crosswalk full of people," St. James Monsignor Michael Meyers told NBC News. What happened next he described as a "very difficult scene."

The driver, 56-year-old Margo Bronstein, was on Pacific Coast Highway when the accident occurred. While driving her white Saturn, she ran the red light at Vincent Street, plowed into the people outside of the church and then ran into an SUV.

Meyers said he administered Last Rites to victims on the ground.

Bronstein was arrested and charged with felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter. She is being held in Redondo Beach Police Department Jail on $300,000 bail.

Police have not revealed what drugs or alcohol was influencing her at the time of the crash, though they said at a press conference that they are investigating prescription pills as a possibility. Bronstein will appear in court Friday.

Despite the difficult circumstances, Meyers said Christians are called to forgive.

"I know nothing about the woman in this situation," he said. "But we are called to forgiveness and to understand. We cannot live our life in anger and vindication."