The consensus of the numerous authorities that responded to the scene of a car wreck that involved 19 vehicles was that, as bad as it was, it could have been a lot worse.
The accident occurred on the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway just north of Los Angeles in the smaller city of Agua Dulce.
On Tuesday afternoon, a tractor-trailer and 18 other smaller vehicles smashed into each other, leaving the roadway littered with the crumpled remains of the cars. Although 17 people went to the hospital, luckily no one died.
Officer J.C. Lesnet of the California Highway Patrol said that all of the officers that returned from the scene to the headquarters in Newhall kept emphasizing how “everyone was really lucky.” Even one of the motorists who had been trapped in the wreckage of their car had only suffered minor cuts and bruises.
Inspector Quvondo Johnson, the spokesman for the county Fire Department, said at first they believed that two people suffered critical injuries, but later retracted that statement. They released no further details about their condition.
Lesnet said that according to witnesses, the wreck happened at about 9:45 a.m. when a restaurant-style metal table fell out of the bed of a pickup truck where it had been left unsecured.
Vehicles either swerved into other lanes to avoid the table or they hit it which started off the chain reaction accident in the southbound lanes near the Escondido Canyon Road.
The pickup did not stop and it is unclear if he was aware that the table had fallen off the back. According to Lesnet, the description of the truck has not yet been made clear, although they are still questioning witnesses.
According to a Caltrans spokesperson, the area has been under construction for some time as part of a 20 mile paving project from Santa Clarita to Palmdale. The majority of the work is being conducted at night.
The spokesperson did not know if the roadwork had affected the crash.
Traffic was backed up for two to three miles for several hours following the crash, and the final lane reopened at 2:08 p.m.
At least 50 firefighters were called to the scene to help put out fires, clean up the hazardous spills and extract people from the wreckage of their vehicles. Some fuel was spilled on the road, but clean-up crews found no evidence of any toxic or hazardous materials spilled from the tractor-trailer truck.
Lesnet said that these kinds of accidents usually occur when there is low visibility from rain, sleet, snow or dust.
“For a clear, dry day, this was pretty bad,” he said.
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