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Firefighters Start Fund for Family of Boy Killed in Tunnel Crash

Donations in the form of cash or check can be directed to: SMFF-Looney Family, 222 Hollister Ave., Santa Monica, 90405.

Graphic courtesy the Santa Monica Firefighters Association.
Graphic courtesy the Santa Monica Firefighters Association.

Originally posted at 4:55 p.m. June 8, 2014. Edited with new details. 

By JAMES ZOLTAK
City News Service

The Santa Monica Firefighters Association today donated $500 to the family of a 2-year-old Las Vegas boy who was killed  in a crash in the McClure Tunnel on Friday.

Noah Looney was killed and his 17-year-old half-brother Jeremiah suffered a serious neck injury in the crash, which happened about 12:35 p.m. Friday on the westbound Santa Monica (10) Freeway, according to the Santa Monica Fire Department.

The boys were on a trip from their Las Vegas home to the beach, traveling in a minivan with their parents and three juvenile siblings, who also were hurt to varying degrees, Battalion Chief Mark Bridges said.

Firefighters donated $1,000 to a fund they established for the family on Saturday and Bridges visited them at UCLA Medical Center this morning and presented them with $500 to help with immediate needs.

"The mom still seems to be stunned and just still trying to accept what's happened over the last couple of days," Bridges told City News Service.

The California Highway Patrol identified the woman as 28-year-old Haley Christian, mother of Noah and stepmother of Jeremiah. She suffered a broken arm in the crash, Bridges said.

Jeremiah Looney -- airlifted from the crash scene -- may need surgery, Bridges said.

The boys' father, identified by the CHP as 42-year-old Ronell Looney, is "being the strong one and handling arrangements and making phone calls and those kinds of things," Bridges said.

The other children in the minivan -- a 4-year-old boy and two girls, ages 12 and 15 -- suffered minor injuries, the CHP reported.

All seven family members were taken to UCLA Medical Center, where Noah Looney was pronounced dead.

Speed was believed to have played a role in the crash, according to the CHP.

Ignacio Alvarez Chavez, 23, of Panorama City, was driving a 1998 International truck at excessive speed inside the tunnel as it neared the 2010 Honda minivan in a blind curve, CHP officials said.

He slammed on the brakes, but was unable to stop and skidded into the right lane of the two-lane tunnel, sideswiping the right side of the minivan. The truck then rear-ended a stopped 2010 Kenwood semitrailer driven by 45-year- old Armando Murillo of Garden Grove, the CHP reported.

Neither truck driver was seriously injured.

The McClure Tunnel westbound was closed for about six hours after the crash.

Bridges said he and his fellow firefighters were affected by the family's plight and those who tried to save Noah Looney took his death particularly hard.

"Because almost all of us are family people and have kids, it affects us in a big way," Bridges said. "We wanted to do all we could to kind of follow through and make sure they were OK in the days and weeks to come."

To contribute to the Looney family fund, cash or check donations can be sent to: SMFF-Looney Family, 222 Hollister Ave., Santa Monica, 90405. Direct transfers also can be made to Chase Bank account number 3095918057.


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