Pacific Coast Highway was closed for hours on Friday morning, Nov. 8, due to an investigation following a fatal two-car crash that occurred shortly before sunrise.

The collision occurred in the area of the former American Apparel store near the far-eastern Malibu city limits, around the bend between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Tuna Canyon Road. The 9-1-1 call came in just after 6 a.m., according to Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station Watch Sgt. Braden, which means the crash occurred shortly before the 6:21 a.m. sunrise that day.

The victim was identified as 17-year-old Dulce Maria Ramiro Sanchez, of Los Angeles, who was reported dead on scene after her sedan crashed into an SUV heading in the opposite direction. The Los Angeles County Department of Coroner reported her death as “blunt-force traumatic injuries.”

The SUV was reportedly driven by a firefighter heading into work in Pacific Palisades, according to information shared with The Malibu Times that could not be officially verified. It was further reported that the firefighter suffered injuries including a broken sternum but was expected to make a full recovery. 

Images of the accident scene show that the sedan driven by Sanchez was broadsided on the driver’s side by the SUV, although Sanchez was driving west into Malibu at the time (the firefighter was headed east) and it was not clear how her vehicle ended up in that position. The sedan, a Honda Accord, ended up across the highway, partially in the eastbound lanes of PCH. Eyewitnesses on scene described accident investigators painstakingly attempting to piece together how the incident occurred.

The roadway was reopened to traffic shortly before noon that day.

In the days following the fatal crash, a memorial to Sanchez was placed on the City of Malibu sign not far from where the collision took place. The posters show pictures of a smiling teenager, surrounded by messages of love from classmates and teachers. 

“Dulce, even though you are gone, you will never be forgotten,” one reads. “Everyone you knew loved you and I could never have asked for a better friend than you.”

The memorial was surrounded by hundreds of brightly colored flowers.

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