A California Highway Patrol cruiser. Photo by John Schreiber.
A California Highway Patrol cruiser. MNLA.com photo by John Schreiber.

A woman driver not wearing a seat belt when she was killed as her SUV drifted off Highway 111 towards downtown Palm Springs, smashed into a fence and rolled over was identified Wednesday as a Santa Monica resident.

The cause of the crash remained a mystery and authorities said they were still trying to figure out why the vehicle ran off the highway.

Martha Martinez, 61, was fatally injured at about 7 a.m. Tuesday south of Overture Drive when she lost control of her Ford Explorer for unknown reasons while driving in the southbound direction, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The location is about half-way between the Highway 111 turnoff from Interstate 10 and downtown Palm Springs and just before the turnoff for the Palm Springs Tramway. The area is often windy and can have blowing dust and sand, but there was no indication any of that was happening or had anything to do with the crash.

Her SUV veered onto the dirt shoulder, traveling approximately 250 feet before smashing into a cable fence and rolling over, according to CHP Officer Jackie Quintero. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Martinez, who was the only person in the vehicle, was not wearing her seat belt, authorities said.

The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

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