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Teen driver killed, three injured in Avenue of the Giants crash

A car smashed into a large redwood tree in the Avenue of the Giants Sunday, killing a 17-year-old driver and causing major injuries to three others, the CHP reported Tuesday.

Driver Steven James Hillaire of Miranda suffered life-threatening injuries and was sent to two hospitals before he died.

At about 3 a.m. Sunday he was driving through the winding redwood park in southern Humboldt County when he lost control of a 2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, according to the CHP, ran off the road and crashed into the tree.

Hillaire had to be cut free by firefighters. He was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka and because of the extent of his injuries was flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa.

Shawn Paul Bergeron, 20, of Phillipsville suffered major injuries and was taken to Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna. Christopher Allen Thompson, 16, of Rio Dell had major injuries and went to Eureka.

Cora Kent Pickens, 31, of Garberville went to Fortuna and was then flown to Santa Rosa Memorial. She was in fair condition Tuesday.

Passenger James Charles Leibman, 29, of McKinleyville wasn't injured.

The crash remained under investigation Tuesday but alcohol didn't appear to be involved, said officials.


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