A 79-year-old Torrance woman was critically hurt and her 83-year-old husband was killed when she drove at 60 mph into block wall outside a Hermosa Beach church, police said Wednesday.
Investigators suspect the wife mistakenly hit the gas pedal instead of the brake while negotiating the downhill drive, but will examine the 2002 Toyota Prius to determine whether its accelerator stuck or some other problem occurred, Hermosa Beach police Sgt. Robert Higgins said.
Coroner’s officials identified the husband as Robert Masato Hirashima. His wife’s name was not released.
The crash occurred about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at Armour and Reynolds lanes, shortly after the couple departed a family event about two long blocks away, police said.
Witnesses told police that the Prius was moving at more than 60 mph as it headed west on Armour Lane and did not appear to brake before it hit a retaining wall next to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
“It looks like she just accelerated for an unknown reason,” Higgins said.
Both air bags deployed. The husband was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife was taken to a hospital. The wife was wearing her seat belt, but it was not immediately known if her husband was wearing his, police said.
Alcohol and drugs did not appear to play a role in the crash, Higgins said.
No one else was hurt.
Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach traffic detectives will investigate the crash along with California Highway Patrol officers, who will recover the vehicle’s “black box” to review what happened just before the crash, Higgins said.
The CHP also will examine the vehicle for mechanical defects.
2002 TOYOTA PRIUS Problems & Complaints