Freeway Pileup at 5,000 Vehicles — and Counting
In the worst vehicle accident in state history, thousands are injured and stranded at the Cajon Pass along Interstate 15. "Fooly Fog" and stupidity are blamed.
By George Wolfe
HESPERIA, Ca. — Hours after the pile-upaccident
began at 7 a.m., even as the fog lifted from the mountain pass,
cars still crashed into one another like a never-ending game of
dominos. In fact, as of this writing, the traffic accident continues
to build momentum and is expected to top the 10,000 vehicle mark
by late this afternoon. Rescue crews hope to get the accident under
control by nightfall, but say it's currently "70% contained."
"I've been working these roads for 20
years now, but I've never seen anything quite so idiotic. They were
California Highway Patrol
"We were all going downhill at about 90
m.p.h.," says pile-up victim Sandruh Billings, "and when
I turned the corner it was like I could see a huge wall of fog up
ahead. It was all so dense: the weather, the drivers. And the more
people got involved in the accident, the more the next people rammed
into those first people. It was pretty ugly."
"Fooly Fog," named after April Fool's Day trickery, crept into the pass early in the morning and surprised commuters.
The California Highway Patrol sent out helicopters
around 9:30 a.m. to try to alert drivers as to the dangers up ahead,
but to no avail. Eye witnesses say that drivers were too involved
with watching the road to look up in the air. CHP even tried dropping
nail strips from the helicopters to halt traffic, but drivers' avoidance
of the nail strips only made drivers panic and swerve into one another.
The scope and volume of the freeway accident hindered
emergency vehicles and made it difficult to reach victims. As of
noon, the total estimated vehicular damage reached the $15 million
CHP officer Ridley Mottern looked weary as he
rolled his eyes and tried to think of a positive spin on the accident,
"I've been working these roads for 20 years now, but I've never
seen anything quite so idiotic. They were like lemmings jumpin'
off cliffs — one after another they just crashed and crashed
and crashed. What's the matter with these people? They can't all
possibly be from Vegas."
WAITING: Sandruh Billings waited all day for
rescue workers to get to her part of the crash.
IN A JAM: Rescue workers free one of thousands
of accident victims. The pileup is now "70% contained."
BACKED UP: Cars along I-15 are backed up for
more than 100 miles.