A Los Angeles man made his initial court appearance Tuesday on felony charges stemming from a wrong-way crash on the Ventura (101) Freeway in Encino that left his girlfriend dead and their four children injured.
Arraignment for Cesar Iban Torres, 31, was rescheduled for Sept. 2 at the Van Nuys Courthouse.
He was charged Monday with one count each of murder, assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest, along with four counts each of attempted murder and child abuse under circumstances or conditions likely to cause great bodily injury or death.
Torres was driving a 2003 Lincoln SUV westbound in the eastbound lanes of the 101 Freeway near the San Diego (405) Freeway, when the vehicle collided head-on with a 2016 Kenworth tractor-trailer at about 7:10 p.m. last Thursday, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Torres’ girlfriend, Aimee Garcia, 26, was killed in the crash, and the couple’s four children — who range in age from 1 to 7 — suffered moderate injuries, authorities said.
After the crash, Torres attempted to flee, according to the CHP, which also alleged that arriving officers “made contact with Torres, where he became combative and a use of force occurred while taking Torres into custody.”
The crash shut down multiple lanes of the eastbound 101 Freeway for several hours while an investigation was conducted.
In a statement Monday announcing the charges against Torres, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said, “A family has been torn apart by this tragic collision that leaves four young children without their mother.”
On a GoFundMe page that had raised nearly $40,000 by Tuesday afternoon, Garcia’s aunt described the victim as a “loving, caring mother” who was “a victim of domestic violence for many years.”
“… The aggressor fulfilled his objective and enter(ed) the freeway the wrong way intentionally killing my niece,” the aunt alleged. “Thank God the children are fine but very traumatized.”
Torres has remained behind bars since his arrest last Thursday night by the CHP, jail records show.