CUPERTINO -- A little girl was killed Monday afternoon when a Jeep Wrangler careened onto the shoulder of Highway 85 near South De Anza Boulevard, smashing into a stopped Mazda minivan with such force that it obliterated the rear of the vehicle where the girl was strapped into a booster seat, said the California Highway Patrol.
A young boy, also in a child's seat, and the 41-year-old Cupertino woman believed to be the children's mother were taken to Valley Medical Center, as was the 56-year-old San Jose man driving the Wrangler. The boy and the man both have major injuries, while the woman's are considered minor, said Sgt. Erica Elias.
The girl was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after the crash, which happened around 3:30 p.m.
"You could barely see the girl inside the car," Elias said. "The right rear of the car was pancaked into the right front."
It was not immediately known why the minivan was pulled to the side of the road, or why the Jeep got on the shoulder. Elias said drugs and alcohol are not believed to be factors in the crash, but they have not ruled out the possibility that the driver of the Jeep suffered some kind of medical incident.
After the minivan was hit, it was sent flying and rolling across lanes of the highway, ending up at the median. A third vehicle bumped into the minivan as it was going across the lanes but that car only had minor damage and the driver was not injured.
Elias said that depending on what investigators find, the man driving the Jeep could face charges related to the girl's death.
Lynetta Schott, a Scotts Valley resident, was going the opposite direction when she drove by the accident moments after it happened.
"I was not more than a quarter-mile away when I saw dirt up in the air, a big brown cloud of it, and thought 'Oh my god there's been an accident,'" she said.
She said cars were stopping on both sides of the road at a horrific scene.
The minivan was upside down, Schott said, and an unmoving person was hanging upside down inside, still strapped into a seat belt.
"The image is still in my brain," she said. "It happened so fast. It's amazing how fast something like that can happen."
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.