One person died and eight people were injured, four of which were in critical condition, in two traffic accidents on the 10 Freeway in Pomona on Monday night. Two of the critically injured were airlifted to the hospital. The accidents occurred at approximately 8:15 pm and involved eight vehicles and one big-rig, which caught fire, near the Towne Avenue exit in Pomona. The cause has not been determined.
In the first accident, four vehicles collided, creating traffic. A big-rig then lost control and collided into the first accident. Other vehicles became trapped under the big-rig, including a red BMW. The driver of the BMW was killed when his vehicle caught fire underneath the big-rig. Other cars crashed into the guard rail on the freeway.
The driver of the big-rig, Hector Avina, told NBC4 that he could not keep the big-rig from colliding with the other cars. He was able to remove himself from the big-rig and assist a passenger of one of the cars with getting out of the vehicle. Other drivers also stopped on the freeway to assist victims with getting out of their cars.
Richard Arena told ABC7, “Cars were being hit left and right, and then we saw a truck coming at us. My kids were in the back of the car. The truck hit us and it hit another van. We saw the truck catch on fire. My just goes, ‘Well get out of here, just keep driving and pull over.’”
The diesel tank in the truck was damaged and 60 gallons of diesel fuel leaked onto the scene and into a nearby storm drain. The big-rig, which was carrying wood furniture, caught fire and flames erupted. Witnesses reported flames coming out the back of the truck and large explosions coming from the big-rig. Firefighters reported that the explosions were the sound of the big-rig’s tires popping.
Crews cleared away cars and had to remove the burned debris from the crashes. Following the accident, authorities closed the 10 Freeway from Indian Hill Boulevard to Garey Avenue in both directions. The westbound lanes were opened again at 9:30 pm on Monday night and the eastbound lanes were opened again at 6:30 am on Tuesday morning. Before that, authorities were allowing cars to travel east on the center median of the eastbound lanes, and people driving to work in the morning were advised to use the 210 and 60 Freeways.
An investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the accidents.
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