According to the preliminary investigation, a gray Infiniti SUV was traveling northbound on Highland Avenue when he veered into a southbound lane, hitting a blue Dodge Caravan at Highland and Willoughby avenues at about 7:30 a.m.
The impact caused the minivan to spin out and hit a pole, LAPD spokesman Cleon Joseph said. The woman driving the minivan and her two children were killed. A coroner says a 6-year-old was declared dead at the scene, while the mother and the other child later died at the hospital. Their names have not yet been released.
Police say the driver of the Infiniti, a 40-year-old man, was hospitalized in critical condition. Investigators do not believe drugs or alcohol were involved, but say speed may have been a factor.
"We are talking to all witnesses involved to see what happened," Joseph said. "At this time, we don't know."
Steven Livingston, who lives and works in the area, said the tragedy hits home because he has two young children.
"It makes you think like you're sitting in the middle of a horror movie," he said. "I know that there's going to be a lot of people grieving today."
Streets in the area were closed for hours due to the investigation.