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Fatal California Traffic Pile-Up Occurs on Interstate 5

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Holiday traffic always usually demands extra caution from California's drivers, as today's posting illustrates.

A sport utility vehicle was traveling southbound on California's Interstate 5 in the early hours of the Tuesday morning after the Labor Day holiday weekend. For unknown reasons, it hit the center divider. The cause of the accident remains under investigation, although authorities suspect driver fatigue to be a factor, given the circumstances. It also appears that neither the driver nor her 11-year-old passenger was wearing a seatbelt, as both were thrown from the SUV. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

In any event, the motor vehicle accident caused a multi-vehicle pile-up as cars following behind hit wreckage or spun out of control, attempting in vain to avoid crashing. At least four additional passenger cars, as well as a big-rick truck, were involved in the pile-up.

Southbound lanes, possibly filled with higher traffic due to the Labor Day Weekend, were reportedly jammed for a mile or more after the accident. Another reason for the long closure is that authorities wanted to keep a landing area clear for medical helicopters, which transported the injured. A shoulder lane was the first to reopen, followed by the reopening of all lanes.

Interstate 5 is one of California's major north-south corridors. Drivers pass through a mountain elevation of 4,100 feet on its path. Its traffic is frequently heavy with commuter traffic, comprised of both cars and trucks. On this particular day, authorities report seeing many vehicles towing trailers, apparently returning from Labor Day weekend festivities.

The tragedy in this story is that the driver may have been negligent in determining her level of fatigue, resulting in an accident that was preventable. Although the desire to maximize holiday vacation time is understandable, that does not excuse drivers from exercising due care on the road. For the other drivers affected by this incident, compensation from a personal injury civil lawsuit may be possible.

Source: Mercury News, "2 dead in crash on Interstate 5 in Tejon Pass," Sept. 4, 2012

· Our firm handles situations similar to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our California Motor Vehicle Accidents page.