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Speed estimated at 93 mph in fatal Valencia crash

Passenger ejected from car reportedly not wearing seat belt

Posted: August 22, 2012 6:05 p.m.
Updated: August 22, 2012 6:05 p.m.


The driver of a car that crashed in front of the local hospital last weekend, killing the passenger, was slowly recovering from serious head injuries Wednesday as a sheriff’s investigator prepared to file charges against him.

The man, whose identity was still being confirmed Wednesday, was speeding northbound when his Mazda Miata slammed into trees in the center median of McBean Parkway early Sunday, killing his passenger, 21-year-old Tugba Elbirlik, also from Turkey and also here on a work visa.

The pair lived in Valencia and were working at Six Flags Magic Mountain for the summer.

“I’ve calculated he was doing 93 miles an hour,” said Detective Jeff Maag, a traffic investigator with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station,

“When you hit a tree going that fast, a car is not built to withstand that impact,” he said. “This isn’t Nascar. There’s no (protective) cages on these cars.”

Sunday’s crash is the fourth fatal crash in the Santa Clarita Valley this year in which someone has died from the impact of a car hitting a tree.

In all but one of those cases, the passenger in each car was killed and its driver — despite persistent head injuries suffered by each one respectively — has survived.

“A high rate of speed is what caused these deaths regardless of what they hit,” Maag said. “All are just ridiculous rates of speed.”

Fatal crashes this year in which speed was a contributing factor, include:

- Luis Castillo Jr., 20, died Aug. 20 when the car in which he was a passenger left Soledad Canyon Road and struck a tree on a raised center median west of Camp Plenty Road.

- Amber Popiel, 30, also died in a crash on Soledad Canyon Road when her car left the roadway at Lost Canyon Road and struck a tree on May 20.

- Dakota Demott, 19, died Jan. 10 when the Ford Mustang in which he was riding slammed into a tree on Sand Canyon Road at Alamo Canyon Road.

Maag said he expected charges to be filed against the Miata driver involved in Sunday’s crash, but since the man was likely to return to Turkey he probably wouldn’t be prosecuted.

“He’s probably going back to Turkey. So, since it’s a misdemeanor, I don’t expect the District Attorney is going act on these charges.”

The United States has had an extradition treaty in place with Turkey since 1981. However, the likelihood of a suspect being extradited on a strength of misdemeanor is unlikely, said Maag.

The passenger in the Miata, Elbirlik, died after she was ejected from the car, he said. She was not wearing a seat belt.

Asked about the driver’s medical condition, Maag said he was still hospitalized at Henry Mayo and added: “I heard he is just now recognizing people.”




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