LANCASTER — Shannon McDonald, a civic leader and commissioner of the Lancaster’s Architectural and Design board, died at the Antelope Valley Hospital from injuries sustained in a two-vehicle westside collision Saturday afternoon. She was 43.

Robert Wells, of Lancaster, the driver of a full-sized Dodge pickup that collided with McDonald’s Chevy Suburban around 12:45 p.m. in the intersection of 40th Street West and Avenue L, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, causing death, Sgt. David Jennings of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Lancaster Station said in a statement.

Three of McDonald’s five children were occupants in the Suburban and were airlifted to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with minor injuries; they were listed in stable condition on Saturday evening, Jennings said.

Preliminary investigation indicates that Wells was driving east on Avenue L, preparing for a left (north) turn onto 40th Street East, while McDonald was driving west on Avenue L approaching 40th Street West. “The signal light cycled to yellow and (Wells) turned left into the path of (McDonald), who entered the intersection on the yellow light,” the sheriff’s statement read. “The two collided, causing (Wells) to spin, and (McDonald) collide into a signal pole.”  

McDonald was trapped in the SUV and had to be extricated before being transported by ambulance to Antelope Valley Hospital in critical condition, said Capt. Chris Brown of L.A. County Fire Station 134, which responded to the scene.

Photos indicated major damage to the front sides of both the Suburban and the Dodge.

McDonald was pronounced dead at the hospital, Jennings said. Wells was taken to Antelope Valley Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.  

McDonald was appointed to the Architectural & Design Commission in 2017, according to her bio on the city’s website. The “long-time resident of Lancaster” and mother of five — four daughters and a son — is described as an accomplished civic leader and activist who was once a foster youth.

She grew in the Antelope Valley, graduated from Lancaster Adult School and earned degrees from the Antelope Valley College and Cal State Bakersfield.

“McDonald pursued her higher education by receiving her master’s degree in Public Policy Administration, and wrote her thesis on ‘Bullying and its Relationship to School-Age Suicides,” according to her bio, “in an effort to curtail the growing instances of bullying in the country, as well as to inform others of the seriousness of bullying on- and off-school campuses.”

The bio states that McDonald has volunteered at the Lancaster School District since 2014 and was employed with the Children, Youth and Family Collaborative (CYFC), “where she mentored foster youth, as well as high-risk youth within the community” and served as a “keynote speaker at the Lancaster’s Foster Youth Summit, where she spoke on her own experiences as a former foster youth.”

According to her Facebook page, McDonald was involved with the Los Angeles County Homeless Coalition, served as vice chair of Title I programs at the Antelope Valley Union High School District and was a board member at the Antelope Valley Partners for Health.

The news of McDonald’s death spread quickly on social media by Saturday evening as condolences poured in from the public.

Lancaster Station traffic investigators were seeking witnesses to the collision and asked anyone with information to contact them.

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