An inferno on the Ventura (134) Freeway involving a gasoline tanker truck was triggered by a driver suspected of being intoxicated when he struck a twin-tanker rig, caused it to spill a trail of fuel and shut down a critical state interchange, the CHP said Sunday.
The CHP identified the man believed to have caused the high-speed crash as Hakop Maghakyan, 25, of Glendale.
He was booked into the Los Angeles County Jail on a misdemeanor DUI related charge with bail set at $5,000.
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A court date was set for Monday in Glendale.
He spoke with a camera crew from Telemundo before he was arrested. He did not want to be identified but claimed the crash wasn't his fault.
“He swerved on me,” said the suspect, who was wearing a black-and-white checked shirt and was holding a cigarette. "The only thing I remember - Boom! … My car is going left and right on the freeway until it stops and I see fire in all of the mirrors.”
Bob Marone, the driver of the rig, blamed Maghakyan for the crash.
“He hit me from the rear," said Marone, who was hauling the gasoline from Colton to Hollywood for PDS Transportation. "My trailer flipped over and caught fire instantly.”
The crash shut down the freeway for 12 hours overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning as crews cleaned up the road and engineers checked the integrity of the overpass.
The only section of the freeway that remained closed through the day Sunday were the westbound lanes. Some lanes remained closed early Monday as crews examined the structure.
Engineers inspected an overpass that was burned after as much as 6,000 gallons of fuel sparked the blaze. Work crews cleaned up the gasoline left in one of twin tankers that ruptured.
The dramatic crash left a trail of flames hundreds of feet long, just west of the Los Angeles River. Amazingly, no one was injured.