Passenger killed after driver falls asleep, slams into pole

The driver of this 1996 Dodge pickup truck told investigators he fell asleep at the wheel before his vehicle crashed into a pole, killing his front seat passenger, authorities said. Photo by LUIS MEZA.

The collision happened on Business Center Parkway and Avenue K-10. Photo by LUIS MEZA.

LANCASTER – One passenger was killed and another passenger was critically injured Sunday afternoon when the driver of a pickup truck fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a pole, authorities said.

The incident happened around 2:20 p.m. on Division Street/Business Center Parkway and Avenue K-10 in Lancaster, according to Lancaster Station Watch Commander Lt. Paul Pfrehm.

“What we know preliminarily is the vehicle was traveling northbound on Division Street,” Pfrehm said. “The driver stated that he fell asleep and crashed into a pole on the northeast corner of the intersection.”

“The right front passenger was pronounced dead at the scene,” Pfrehm continued.

The driver and another passenger, who was seated in the middle of the front seat, were transported to Antelope Valley Hospital in critical condition, Pfrehm said.

The deceased passenger was not identified pending notification of next of kin. Pfrehm said he was a White or Hispanic male who appeared to be in his 50s.

“Alcohol does not appear to be a factor at this time – preliminarily,” Pfrehm said.

The collision is still under investigation.

Updated 7/15/12 @ 8:45 pm: The following is the press release from the Lancaster Station:

Traffic investigators from the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station are investigating the circumstances of a fatal single vehicle collision which occurred at the intersection of Business Center Parkway and Avenue K-10 in Lancaster on July 15, 2012 at approximately 2:20 p.m..

Preliminary information gathered at the scene revealed the vehicle was being driven northbound on Business Center Parkway by Robert Lira, Male Hispanic, 60, of Lancaster, when it left the roadway for unknown reasons and struck a traffic signal pole.

The victim (passenger) was pronounced dead at the scene.  The driver and another passenger were transported to Antelope Valley Medical Center in Lancaster, where they are being treated for their injuries.  The identity of the victim has not been released.  Alcohol does not appear to have been a factor in this collision.

Sheriff’s Detectives continue to investigate this fatal collision, and ask if anyone has information regarding this incident, to contact the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Traffic Enforcement Team at 661-948-8466.

Photo by LUIS MEZA.

  6 comments for “Passenger killed after driver falls asleep, slams into pole

  1. Matt
    July 31, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I knew the 2 passengers of that vehicle and I hope the surviving one will be ok. They were good friends of mine. Condolences go out to the nice guy who passed. I won’t mention names since they haven’t been released.

  2. a friend of the family
    July 16, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Unknown why Robert fell asleep. Both of the pasangers were mentally challanged and worked at Desert Haven. Neither knew how to drive. Both were very kind hearted hard working people. The family needs a lot of prayers right now.

  3. Lucie
    July 15, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    could be medication or the heat or illness they will give him tests for blood most likely very sad either way : ( please be careful out there people!!!!! R.I.P to the person who passed away,sorry for the family’s loss : (

  4. Wow
    July 15, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    He fell asleep at 2:30 in the afternoon? And why didn’t his passengers wake him?? Thats weird because usually ppl who fall asleep at the wheel are either alone in the car or it’s late at night.

    • S. Parker
      July 15, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      I assumed he had narcolepsy or something. With narcolepsy, sleep attacks can happen at any time throughout the day. Maybe the passenger tried to shake him awake and that’s when he swerved into the pole. That poor man must be riddled with guilt.

      • Concered
        July 16, 2012 at 7:00 am

        Well tox reports will show if he had anything in his system.

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