and some connecting freeways
was snarled for miles and was expected to be backed up for hours following
the bizarre crash, which occurred after the trailer on a rig being driven
west on the Artesia (91) Freeway Interchange to the 710 Freeway south
tumbled off the overpass and plummeted to the roadway below.
"It just dropped off the bridge, out of the sky, it was like a movie,''
said Russell Lopez, a Pico Rivera resident who was an eyewitness. "It hit
the rig once and ... bounced into the air and then landed on the right side
of the truck and rolled over.''
Lopez, who said he was about two seconds behind the victim as he drove in
the No. 1 lane of the freeway, was amazed that no one else was hit by the
massive trailer, despite the fact that all of the northbound lanes were
filled with cars and trucks. It appeared as though the truck that lost its
container was heading to the harbor, but it was not clear if the trailer
was empty or full.
The crash happened began at about 2:20 p.m. when something caused the
trailer on a big rig driving across the 91 Freeway overpass to come loose.
from the rig to lose its crushing load.
As the trailer slammed into the cab of the semi below, Lopez said the sound
of the impact was like an explosion. The force was so great the trailer was
sent flying through the air a second time, then came crashing to the ground
on the side of the freeway.
"I don't think he had time to react,'' Lopez recalled. "I knew just by
seeing the guy's arm that it was going to be a DOA.''
The cab was so badly crushed motorists could not see the driver, only his
arm, which hung limply from the window.
Firefighters had responded to that crash with the Jaws of Life and other
equipment, but quickly realized there would be no rescue for the driver.
Diesel fuel that gushed from the dead man's truck spilled out across the
northbound lanes, but firefighters contained the spill and hazardous
materials crews were called out twice to mop up the mess.
Traffic on the northbound 710 was diverted to the eastbound 91 Freeway, CHP
Officer Vince Ramirez said. And the northbound and southbound connectors
from the 405 Freeway to the 710 were shut down.
The cause of the accident remains under investigation and the name of the
man killed was withheld pending notification of family.
"How do you comprehend that container hitting just his cab, no other car,
just him on a busy freeway,'' Lopez asked, his voice revealing his shock.
"Gosh, it's amazing.''