A woman who drove into a group of pedestrians leaving a Christmas concert at a Redondo Beach church in 2014, killing four of them, and the state Department of Transportation have collectively agreed to pay $295,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs who sued both.
A retired judge allocated the money to about a dozen plaintiffs. Some are minors whose share will have to reviewed by a Torrance Superior Court judge for final approval, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys court papers.
The plaintiffs were either relatives of the victims killed, or individuals who suffered physical or emotional injuries during the incident.
The state will pay $265,000 and the remainder will be paid by Margo Bronstein, the driver of the vehicle that struck the victims, the plaintiffs’ attorneys further stated in their court papers.
In June 2016, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Laura F. Priver sentenced Bronstein, then 57, to three years, four months in prison. Bronstein pleaded no contest to four counts of vehicular manslaughter with negligence.
Some of the victims’ family members — who had been asking for the maximum 10-year sentence — said outside court after the 2016 sentencing that they were shocked by the amount of time Bronstein was ordered to serve.
According to police, Bronstein ran a red light around 8 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2014, and plowed into a group of pedestrians who had just attended a Christmas concert at St. James Catholic School and Parish near Pacific Coast Highway and Vincent Street in Redondo Beach.
The group was walking across Pacific Coast Highway when they were struck by the northbound white Saturn. Bronstein continued through the intersection, swerved into the southbound lanes and slammed into another vehicle — all while dragging 6-year-old Samuel Gaza, a kindergartener at the church school. He wound up pinned under a front tire of Bronstein’s car.
Also killed were Samuel’s mother, 36-year-old Martha Gaza, and Mary Ann Wilson, 81, and Saeko Matsumura, 87, all of Torrance.
Bronstein pleaded no contest to four counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence — without any pre-arranged plea agreement,
Plaintiffs’ attorney Adam Shea stated in court papers that the state was sued because of an alleged dangerous condition at the intersection. He also stated that Bronstein testified in a deposition that she had no memory of what happened because she had excruciating pain in her neck before the accident and blacked out.
Bronstein also said she used the hand-control system on her vehicle for years without any prior problems, Shea stated in his court papers.
In sentencing Bronstein, Priver told the victims’ family members, “No sentence that this court imposes will change what happened on that day … I sympathize and I empathize with your loss.”
She noted that Bronstein had no prior criminal record and that investigators ultimately determined that she was not driving under the influence at the time of the crash.