Person suspected of causing deadly Fresno pileup arrested

first_imgFRESNO A suspect has been arrested who authorities believe was involved in causing a crash involving more than 100 cars and trucks on Saturday that killed at least two people and injured dozens more, the California Highway Patrol said.

<p Eighteen big rigs were involved in the massive pileup on Highway 99 just south of Fresno as patches of dense fog obscured visibility on the heavily traveled roadway, CHP officials said.<p CHP Officer Kirk Arnold said an arrest had been made as a result of the crash investigation, but could not confirm the charges on which the suspect is being held. The person, whom the CHP is not yet identifying, is being held in Fresno County Jail, Arnold said. Officials identified one of the victims as Travis Rogers, 26. A 5-year-old also died but has not been identified, Arnold said. The two victims were traveling in separate vehicles when the chain-reaction collisions occurred around 7:45 a.m. CHP Officer Paul Solorzano, Jr. described the scene as”something out of a movie, walking up and seeing all the cars mangled and crushed.” Rescuers had to extract several people trapped in the wreckage, and paramedics transported more than three dozen patients to the hospital with injuries, Fresno City Fire Department spokesman Ken Shockley said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m. The freeway’s northbound lanes around Clovis Avenue were shut down indefinitely as investigators worked to determine the cause of the crash. Traffic backed up for miles south of the wreckage. Southbound lanes remained opened. Arnold said the freeway would not be reopened until midnight at the earliest because of the ongoing investigation. Two of the big rigs leaked 90 gallons of diesel fuel onto the freeway when their fuel tanks ruptured, but the diesel was contained. No hazardous materials were spilled, CHP officials said. Hours after the accident, the freeway was littered with smashed cars and trucks, broken glass, auto parts and blood. A big rig carrying stacked crates of live turkeys was stranded in the middle of the normally busy highway. Crash victims gathered on the freeway shoulder near the wreckage, waiting to be interviewed by investigators. Cindy Ramirez, 21, of Selma, said her purple Mazda pickup truck was rear-ended as she was driving to her job washing windows in Shaver Lake. “Everybody was trying to miss everybody, but it was impossible not to get hit,” Ramirez said. “I’m fine physically, but I keep thinking about all of the things that could have happened.” Omar Macias, 33, was hauling asphalt from Bakersfield to Elk Grove when his truck was caught in the pileup. “I got out to check on people at first, and then I heard more crashes around me, so I got right back in,” said Macias of Bakersfield. “I feel OK, but I don’t what OK means right now. People got hurt.” Even as investigators interviewed dazed drivers on the roadside, crews began sprinkling sand on the freeway and sweeping up shattered glass. Thick seasonal fog known as “Tule fog” typically occurs in Central California in the late fall and winter. Two people died along a nearby stretch of fog-blanketed Highway 99 in an 74-vehicle pileup in 2002, and another section of the roadway several miles south was the scene of a 74-vehicle crash that left two dead nearly a decade ago. “There was probably two-foot visibility in the fog when I got here. It was really bad,” said Mike Bowman, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “It looked like chaos. Cars were backed up on top of each other.” Micky Padilla of Porterville was driving with his family to a baptism when they heard the sound of metal screeching, struggled to brake and slammed into a Nissan Maxima. Padilla ran out and found a man bleeding in a white pickup. The man was still breathing minutes later when firefighters arrived, but later died on the highway, Padilla said. “It was just bang, bang all around us,” Padilla said, shaking his head as he stood next to a puddle of blood on the blacktop. “I can’t believe I still have my wife and my kids. Someone was looking out for us.” Associated Press writers Marcus Wohlsen and Jason Dearen contributed to this report from San Francisco.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You're all set!last_img