Wrong Way Driver Causes Fiery Early Morning Crash

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 |

On Tuesday, March 18, 2008 at 11:38 PM, 9 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 2 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 1 EMS Battalion Captain, 1 Battalion Chief Officer Command Team, DOT, Cal Trans, CHP and the L.A. County Coroner, all under the direction of Battalion Chief Michael Arguelles, responded to a reported Auto Fire at the EB 118 FY x Reseda Bl. in Porter Ranch.

The first frantic call into the 911 Dispatch Center indicated a vehicle was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of the 118 Freeway. Shortly after those initial calls, a fiery crash involving a tractor trailer and 2 cars erupted into fires which spread across all lanes of the freeway. The intense blaze spread into the grass and brush along the freeway aided by leaking diesel fuel from the semi truck, causing additional work for responding companies. Debris from the damaged center divider littered both sides of the freeway.

A request for all traffic lanes to be shut down in both directions to enable fire companies to access the freeway and to establish much needed supply lines to fight the fires. It took approximately 60 Firefighters 29 minutes to bring the multiple fires under control. There were four reported patients. Two females, 45 and 12, traveling in a small compact car, escaped serious injury and were treated and released at the scene. The semi truck driver was treated and transported to Northridge Hospital in stable condition. There was one fatality, a male whose age could not be determined, the driver of a Toyota Scion. The low injury count can be greatly attributed to the limited amount of traffic during the early morning hours.

(photos) (video)

Submitted by d'Lisa Davies
Los Angeles Fire Department

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was on my way to work this morning on the 118 W and saw traffic backed up once the fwy was opened again. Thank goodness the firefighters were able to control the fire the night before and that this occurred late in the evening, therefore minimizing further fatalities. My prayers go out to the family of the deceased.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 11:30,

Thanks for the note, and your kind words of praise.

Like you, we're saddened by the loss of life in this senseless incident, and remain grateful that others were not more seriously injured or killed.

While all of the factors leading up to the collision are not known by Firefighters, we hope this incident will cause all of us to take pause before we get behind the wheel.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Anonymous said...

For the record, the CHP is never under the direction of a fire department batallion chief. The highest ranking CHP officer or sergeant on scene is always the incident commander at an accident on any freeway.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 8:49,

You wrote...

...the CHP is never under the direction of a fire department batallion chief.

If I may kindly take it one step further, the men and women of the CHP are never under 'the direction' of an LAFD Chief of any rank!

Please know that while my name is most closely associated with this blog, there are actually *three* LAFD members who contribute independently to what you read here.

Ron, d'Lisa and I use a variety of word processing tools, and it is certainly not clear to me (at the moment) that Firefighter Davies purposely wished to convey a sense of subordination in her assembly, publication and syndication of that information.

Nevertheless, I can see where that could be construed, and I wish to take this opportunity to apologize and clarify our purpose.

All members of the LAFD, including those working in media and public relations, are proud to have a strong working relationship with members of the California Highway Patrol - a relationship that dates back to the CHP's founding in 1929.

While I am *not* Ms. Davies supervisor, I will be pleased to bring your comments to her attention.

Whenever you might wish to engage in dialogue or bring matters to the attention of Ron, d'Lisa or I, please do not hesitate to contact us through the City's 3-1-1 system or by calling LAFD Headquarters at (213) 485-5971.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Anonymous said...

The wrong-way driver went flying past my car about a mile before he crashed into the truck. It was a very frightening experience. Has any further information been released about the driver that might explain why he was driving the wrong way (e.g., drug/alcohol test, statement from family, etc.)?

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous 1:35,

Thanks for the note. Few of us can imagine your harrowing experience, and we're glad that you and other passersby were not killed or seriously injured.

As Firefighters, we are not privy to details of the California Highway Patrol's investigation, and must therefore refer you to the CHP for official information.

The Public Affairs Officer (PAO) at the West Valley CHP Office should be able to assist you. They can be contact at:

California Highway Patrol
West Valley Office
5825 De Soto Avenue
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Business Telephone: (818)888-0980

I hope this information helps.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

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