Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another Viper Crash - Crash leads to traffic woes

The investigation continues into the cause of the car verses big rig accident that snarled traffic in La Cañada Flintridge for more than eight hours on Saturday, April 12.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Todd Workman, the accident occurred at 6:55 a.m. on Saturday when a Dodge Viper driven by a 52-year-old La Cañada man entered the westbound Foothill (210) Freeway at the Berkshire Avenue onramp. The driver of the Viper was behind a big rig truck driven by a 65-year-old Hesperia man. The Viper changed from lane four to lane three.

“For some reason, the [Viper] driver lost control of his vehicle and struck the center of the big rig twice,” Workman said.

After impact with the big rig, the Viper spun around and hit the freeway’s center divider. The truck driver applied his brakes and accidentally jack-knifed the big rig onto its right side, blocking all westbound lanes of the freeway.

Shortly thereafter, the Viper driver and his 11-year-old son were able to get clear of their vehicle, according to Workman.


“About five minutes after they were clear, the [Viper] caught fire,” Workman said.

The big rig driver escaped from his vehicle without incident. The two drivers and the boy reported minor injuries; no one was transported to a medical facility.

The accident stopped all westbound lanes from just west of Berkshire Avenue to Angeles Crest Highway and restricted eastbound traffic within the same area, from five lanes to three.

Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station personnel were at the “Play It Safe Expo” held at Verdugo Hills Hospital shortly after the accident occurred. According to Deputy Jeff Martin, many of the volunteers left the expo and were assigned to traffic control on Foothill Boulevard.

Prevented from traveling on the freeway, a solid line of cars traveled from the Berkshire exit to northbound Oak Grove Avenue and then to westbound Foothill Boulevard to Angeles Crest. Traffic was even more congested than it might have normally been following such an incident, because of a lane closure on Foothill due to ongoing street improvements from Beulah Drive to Angeles Crest.

“We had the command post at Flintridge Preparatory School,” said Capt. David Silversparre, the new commander of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station.

The stations’ mobile command post had been on display at the expo but was transported to Flintridge Prep to help coordinate the traffic units.

“We found that drivers were cutting through Trader Joe’s and Ralphs market parking lot to get back on the freeway at Gould Avenue,” Silversparre said.

Traffic was routed off Foothill, north on Hampton Road, west on Houseman Street then south onto Gould Avenue and back onto the westbound 210, Silversparre said.

He credited the experience of the watch commander and field unit deputies that were familiar with La Cañada’s streets and were able to devise a traffic solution quickly.

Crews continued to clean the freeway of debris and of any residual fuel from the crash or the vehicle fire. The big rig’s trailer had to be unloaded and goods transferred before it was cleared from the freeway.

The westbound lanes of the 210 were backed up to the interchange with the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway Martin said.

All lanes were reopened at 3:25 p.m. Saturday.

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