About 30 vehicles piled up in chain-reaction crashes in heavy morning fog on a Southern California mountain highway Wednesday. At least 15 people were injured, and wreckage was scattered for a half-mile.
Conditions at the scene on Interstate 15 near the Cajon Pass summit were too foggy for helicopters to fly, so ambulances took the injured to hospitals, said Tom Barnes, a San Bernardino County fire dispatch supervisor.
He said 10 people were taken to hospitals and five were assessed by paramedics. California Highway Patrol Officer Daniel Hesser said none of the injuries appeared life-threatening.
The pass is at the western end of the San Bernardino Mountains. Northbound lanes of I-15 were closed for hours as vehicles were removed and a diesel spilled was cleaned up, causing a mammoth traffic tie-up in the region.
They began when a big-rig came upon slower traffic and jackknifed as it tried to avoid a collision and hit other vehicles, Hesser said. Other collisions apparently happened as other motorists swerved, he said.
Earlier estimates said up to 50 vehicles were involved, but Hesser said the final tally would be closer to 30.
Cajon Pass rises to more than 4,100 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains about 45 miles east of Los Angeles. It carries Interstate 15 traffic between Southern California cities, Mojave Desert cities and Las Vegas.
Northbound traffic stalled at the bottom of the southern side of the pass, where I-15 connects with other major highways. Travelers were warned to avoid the area if possible.
Southern California has been enduring a siege of "June gloom" weather, a deep marine layer that pushes inland from the ocean, bringing low clouds, fog and drizzle.
"It is very, very foggy up there," Lopez said from the highway patrol dispatch center in San Bernardino, south of the pass.