Due to the efforts of fellow drivers and passengers on the 405 Freeway, there were no fatalities in a semi-truck crash near Sepulveda Pass in California. The collision, which sent four people to the hospital, left fiery wreckage on the road and a Honda trapped underneath the big rig. Both vehicles caught fire. Crash witnesses, including four uniformed Army ROTC staff from UCLA, came to the aid of the injured driver who was stuck in the vehicle and were able to free him before flames completely overtook the car. While this truck accident had no deaths, others have not been as lucky.
The Sepulveda Pass truck crash was not the only dangerous truck crash in California in just two days. A Mustang driver died in a fiery collision with a semi near the Cholame Y, and a PG&E employee died in a big rig collision near Willows.
Semi-Truck Crossed into Oncoming Traffic in Sepulveda Pass Truck Crash
April 30, 2018
A semi-truck hauling concrete and rock crashed on the 405 Freeway by Mulholland Drive, unleashing havoc. The crash occurred when the truck swerved from the northbound lane into the southbound lanes.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) officials say that the accident occurred a little before 3:00 p.m., though they are uncertain what caused the semi-truck driver to lose control. The truck driver, however, said in interviews with the CHP that a vehicle cut him off, forcing him to change lanes to avoid hitting it, which in turn caused him to strike a separate vehicle and collide with the center divider.
A Honda became trapped beneath the wrecked big rig, and both vehicles caught fire. The semi-truck driver managed to extricate himself from the vehicle and was taken to an area hospital for treatment of neck and back pain. The Honda’s driver could not free himself and was stuck inside his vehicle.
Andre Yanez witnessed the crash from his car and immediately jumped into action to try to free the Honda driver. Debris that the big rig had been hauling, including concrete with rebar in it, blocked Yanez from reaching the driver’s side of the vehicle.
“We’d shake it like half an inch to the left and right, but we couldn’t even get the thing off of anything,” Yanez told ABC7.
Others around him worked on extinguishing the rising flames as Yanez went in search of tools he could use to cut an escape route for the Honda driver.
“I was looking for a circular saw, a grinder, a cutting wheel or anything,” he said.
Yanez eventually found a saw and used it to cut through rebar that was in the way. Once they removed that obstacle, he and another individual pulled the driver from the vehicle.
Four military personnel also witnessed the crash and worked with Yanez to rescue the trapped driver. The four, who are members of UCLA’s Army ROTC program, immediately rushed toward the accident scene and helped ensure the truck driver’s safety before discovering the crushed Honda and working to free that driver.
“I truly believe they saved his life…to them, we say thank you very much,” CHP Sgt. Jose Ahumada said in an interview with KTLA.
CHP officials say the Honda driver suffered burns to 80 percent of his body but is expected to survive.
Two other people were injured in the Sepulveda Pass truck crash, and the freeway was shut down for hours as officials worked to secure the scene.
Highway 41 Shut Down After Fatal Truck Crash by Cholame “Y”
April 30, 2018
The same day as the Sepulveda Pass truck crash, another dangerous crash involving a big rig took place, this one fatal and in Central California.
It occurred near the Cholame “Y”, which is known by some as the James Dean Memorial Junction and by others as “Bloody Alley.” It’s a notoriously dangerous section of road, and officials have agreed to alter the roadway to try to reduce accidents, though those changes are still many years away.
The April 30 accident involved a 2007 Ford Mustang and a 2007 International semi-truck with two trailers. The Mustang driver, who has not yet been identified, was traveling northbound while the semi-truck driver, 63-year-old Fillimon Lopez, was traveling southbound. The Mustang’s driver lost control of the vehicle for unknown reasons and veered into the southbound lanes and the path of the semi-truck, which connected with the side of the Mustang, at approximately 2:52 p.m. The semi then jackknifed and caught fire.
The unidentified driver of the Mustang died, but Lopez escaped the semi-truck with no injuries.
Highway 41 was shut down for five hours as responders worked to clear debris and officials began their investigation. The cause of the crash is still unknown, but CHP Sgt. Tim Neumann said they do not believe the Mustang driver was under the influence when the crash occurred.
PG&E Employee Killed After Big Rig Veered into His Lane Near Willows
April 28, 2018
The identity of a Cottonwood man killed in a multiple-vehicle semi-truck crash in the Willows area has been confirmed as Shane Keyser, a PG&E employee.
Keyser was traveling northbound on Interstate 5 not far from County Road 57 at approximately 12:30 p.m. when the collision happened.
CHP officials say that a semi-truck traveling southbound and driven by 29-year-old Jerry Odom Jr. crossed the center divider and struck Keyser, who was driving a 2016 Chevy. Keyser’s vehicle was pushed to the side of the roadway, and the big rig eventually came to a rest against a fence. Other vehicles were also hit by the semi-truck.
Keyser, who has a wife and three children, was killed, and Odom Jr. suffered minor injuries that were treated at Enloe Medical Center.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our workers and the public,” PG&E PIO Paul Moreno said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of our employee and all of those who knew him and worked alongside him.”
The company said they were dispatching members of their leadership team to be available for Keyser’s fellow employees. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.