Murrieta mourns three local women killed in traffic collision

Three female Vista Murrieta High School graduates described as "best of friends" were killed along with the male driver in a head...


Three female Vista Murrieta High School graduates described as "best of friends" were killed along with the male driver in a head-on crash in a remote area east of Joshua Tree National Park Monday afternoon, authorities said.

Condolences poured in on social media Tuesday after news spread of the deaths of Gabrielle Constante, 20, Jessica Giraldo, 21, and Marissa Garnica, 20 in the accident, which occurred about 3:15 p.m. Monday on Highway 177, 19 miles north of the junction with Interstate 10 at Desert Center, according to the California Highway Patrol. The three women were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Riverside County Coroner. Matthew Hodges, 30, of Corona was airlifted to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:51 p.m.

The four were returning from a holiday weekend river trip, wrote Karen Parris, spokeswoman for the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, in a statement. The three women had played soccer together at Vista Murrieta High and "were the best of friends from the time they were young," Paris wrote.

According to the CHP, Hodges was driving southbound on Highway 177 in a 2012 Toyota Sedan when his vehicle drifted into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into a semi-truck. The driver of the truck was not injured.

The accident remains under investigation.

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