Vehicles pile up in foggy mountain pass

June 10, 2009 9:28:59 AM PDT
As many as 50 vehicles were involved in a chain-reaction accident early Wednesday in fog on a mountain highway, with injuries reported and wreckage scattered for a half-mile, authorities said. The number and severity of injuries was not immediately known, California Highway Patrol Officer Jacki Parent said.

The chain-reaction collision began when two tractor-trailer rigs crashed in northbound lanes, officers said.

Motorist Phil Cokkinos told KTTV's "Good Day LA" program by phone that he saw three separate multi-vehicle accidents as he zigzagged along Interstate 15 near the summit of Cajon Pass. The last crash was the largest, he said.

"There was like three, four big-rigs, a couple cars accordioned in between them. In all between the three accidents, 50 cars-plus," he said.

Cajon Pass rises to an elevation of more than 4,100 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains about 45 miles east of Los Angeles. It carries Interstate 15 traffic between Southern California cities, Mojave Desert cities and Las Vegas.

Northbound traffic stalled at the bottom of the southern side of the pass.

Southern California has been enduring a siege of "June gloom" weather, a deep marine layer that pushes inland from the ocean, bringing low clouds, fog and drizzle.

"It is very, very foggy up there," Lopez said from the highway patrol dispatch center in San Bernardino, south of the pass.

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