Investigators were trying to determine Monday how police and paramedics responding to a car crash failed to notice the body of an elderly woman inside a badly damaged vehicle.
Shirley Lee Williams, 72, of Paso Robles was discovered Sunday beneath an air bag in the front passenger seat at an impound yard in the San Fernando Valley, police said.
The vehicle was towed to the yard the previous day after paramedics pulled her son from the same car and took him to a hospital.
Williams came to investigators' attention after family members reported her missing.
"We conducted a follow-up to the tow yard, and we discovered the woman inside the vehicle," police Officer Mike Lopez said.
"She was dead."
The vehicle driven by Williams' son hit a parked car in a bank parking lot and then slammed into a building, authorities said.
Steven Williams, 48, was taken to Northridge Hospital Medical Center, where he was listed in critical but stable condition Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said.
When paramedics arrived at the scene of the crash, the son told rescuers that he was alone in the car, police said.
"When questioned if anyone else was in the vehicle, the driver indicated there was no one else," Deputy Chief Michael Moore said.
Moore said the investigation was ongoing and detectives need to determine how the question was asked and whether Williams was able
to fully understand it.
An autopsy found that Williams died of multiple blunt force injuries within minutes of the crash, Lt. Fred Corral, a coroner's spokesman, said.