Hawthorne cop cruiser crash: Woman dies of injuries


Carlos Cerna wiped tears from his eyes, as prayers were said for his 34-year-old wife Karina Preza.

Family, friends and neighbors gathered for a candlelight vigil, to support the father of three, who's lost the love of his life and to help collect donations to send the victim's body home to El Salvador.

Cerna says his wife was beautiful. She was the mother of the house, the one who took care of everything.

The mother of three was on her way to pick up her husband from work Wednesday when she pulled out onto El Segundo Boulevard and was hit by a Hawthorne police officer.

Investigators say he was responding to a call, but neighbors say they never heard sirens.

"All I heard was a big bang, I did not hear a siren," said Herman Flint, Preza's neighbor. "The rest of the tenants also said they did not hear a siren."

Preza was ejected from her Honda and gravely injured. Her family made the difficult decision to take her off life support Friday.

Preza's oldest son, Carlos Junior, says she was the best mom, always happy and smiling.

"She would always be there when someone needed her," said Carlos Junior. "She would know when something was wrong, she would help you with those problems."

Carlos Junior says he doesn't feel hatred toward the officer, but feels thats who's responsible for his mother's death. The main concern now is caring for his baby brother and 5-year-old brother with autism, with the help of family.

The police officer suffered minor injuries and is expected to be OK. A second officer who was also in that cruiser was not injured.

The investigation surrounding the crash is being handled by the California Highway Patrol.

Detectives are working to determine how fast the officer was traveling and whether or not the police car had its lights or sirens on at the time of the crash.

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