John Cádiz Klemack, Patrick Healy
A massive 19-vehicle pileup on the 14 Freeway near Agua Dulce sent 15 people to the hospital Monday after a big rig truck slammed into a vehicle setting off a chain reaction. The southbound lanes were shut down for hours starting from Escondido Canyon Road near Agua Dulce. John Cadiz Klemack and Patrick Healy report for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on June 26, 2012.
Drivers and passengers involved in a nineteen-vehicle pileup near Agua Dulce Tuesday morning after a big-rig truck towing two trailers collided with multiple passenger cars said they felt fortunate the massive crash looked worse than it actually was.
"I would’ve thought when I got out of the car and looked at cars piled on top of eachother that there would have been some fatalities or some very serious injuries, and, thank God, there wasn’t," said Michael Schwartz, a painter who was travelling with three colleagues when his truck was slammed from behind.
Schwartz said he was stopped on the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway for about a minute before he heard squealing breaks and felt a "tremendous impact" followed by three successive impacts.
The crash occurred south of the Escondido Canyon Road exit in the Agua Dulce area (map), about 1 mile east of Vasquez Rocks county park.
Fifteen individuals were injured and taken to the hospital, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Two additional patients were treated at the scene and released.
CHP officials said all of those injured are expected to make a full recovery.
A triage area was set up on the side of the freeway.
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The crash was reported at 9:42 a.m. The roadway, which is immediately surrounded by largely undeveloped rural land, reopened at about 2 p.m.
The California Highway Patrol's traffic website stated that 25 tons of sand were involved, and that passengers were trapped in their vehicles. Photos from the scene showed at least nine cars piled on top of eachother and severe damage to vehicles, including a car, shown below, where seemingly every part of the vehicle was crushed except the driver's seat.
Officials on scene said that the big rig was going too fast while traveling around a curve. The truck was not far behind a CHP officer's patrol car, which was swerving back and forth in order to slow traffic to create a break so that debris could be cleared from the roadway.
The big rig was unable to stop in time and rammed cars in front of it, CHP officials said.
Aerial video showed multiple people being transported on gurneys and stretchers.
Traffic was backed up for several miles into Acton. Traffic was being directed off the freeway at Escondido Canyon Road.