Wednesday, April 25, 2012
A chain-reaction freeway crash caused by a hit-and-run driver today left five people injured -- one fatally -- and trapped in a mangled SUV hanging precariously over the edge of a three-story-high bridge on Interstate 805 in Sorrento Valley.
The group, at least three of them members of the same family, was heading to Disneyland in a black 2003 Toyota Rav4 about 6:30 a.m. when their vehicle was hit near Mira Mesa Boulevard by a 2005 Nissan Altima whose driver had swerved to try to avoid a collision with a sedan veering into her lane, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The RAV4 skidded out of control, overturned and rolled over side-to-side several times before coming to rest on its wheels, partially over the edge of the overpass and about 30 feet above a Caltrans work site, CHP public-affairs Officer Art Athans said.
The Altima, meanwhile, hit a 2011 Toyota Tacoma pickup, sending it swerving into a guardrail.
Seeing the crumpled SUV perched over the railing above them, workers from the state construction area moved a heavy-duty forklift onto the bridge and used it to support the rear of the Rav4 until rescue personnel were able to extricate the occupants, Athans said.
A 66-year-old San Diego woman who had been riding in a rear seat of the SUV suffered major head trauma in the wreck. Medics took her to a hospital, where she died later in the day. Her name was withheld pending family notification.
The driver of the SUV, 43-year-old Brian D. Thomas of San Diego, was taken to a hospital for treatment of broken ribs, cuts and bruises. His 42-year-old wife, Rebecca, was treated for minor injuries.
Two other back-seat passengers, an 8-year-old boy and 22-year-old woman, were taken to an emergency room with lacerations and bruises.
The two other motorists involved in the wreck were uninjured, Athans said.
The crashes left three lanes on the freeway closed for emergency vehicles, investigation and cleanup for about 90 minutes.
The hit-and-run driver involved in the accident did not stop at the scene, according to Athans. The vehicle was described as a beige or silver Honda sedan.