Fatal big rig crash closes Route 99

By Alexa Haussler The Associated Press
Thursday December 20, 2001

SACRAMENTO — Four people died and two were injured Wednesday in a fiery crash involving three tractor-trailers on a highway south of Sacramento, authorities said. 

The morning pileup closed Route 99 near Grant Line Road for hours. The northbound lanes reopened midday. But the southbound lanes were likely to remain closed most of the day and officers were diverting traffic to Interstate 5, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Tom Marshall. 

At least three trucks were involved in the crash shortly after 9 a.m. — two of which were engulfed in flames, Marshall said. 

Authorities did not yet know the names of those killed Wednesday afternoon. Two other victims were taken to an area hospital, at least one with burns, Marshall said. Their conditions were unavailable. 

The pileup apparently was triggered when one tractor-trailer crossed the highway’s center divide and hit two other trucks and an automobile, Marshall said. 

Witnesses told dispatchers the trucks appeared to be exploding, but Marshall said that likely was caused by the gasoline tanks. He said one of the trucks carried rice meal, another held electronic equipment and the third was nearly empty. 

The crash investigation continued Wednesday, but fog may have been a factor. The area’s heavy seasonal fog — often the cause of dangerous driving conditions and wrecks — was reported throughout the Sacramento region Wednesday morning. 

Last year fog-related crashes killed 44 people and injured 2,188, said CHP spokeswoman Anne DaVigo. In 1999, 52 people died in similar crashes and 2,064 were injured. 

Authorities are urging drivers to use caution when driving in fog. This year, Marshall said the CHP is running paid advertisements for the first time providing tips for driving in fog. 

They include: 

— Reduce speed. 

— Keep headlights on, but use low beams. 

- Partially open driver’s side window to hear outside activity. 

- If your car becomes disabled, pull off the highway as far as safely possible and turn off you headlights. If possible, get out of the car and walk away from the road while waiting for help. 


On the Net: 

For more driving safety tips see http://www.chp.ca.gov/