Fatal crash briefly closes I-5 north of Sacramento Airport

The Associated Press
Friday January 11, 2002

SACRAMENTO — A fatal chain-reaction crash north of Sacramento International Airport closed Interstate 5 for a time early Thursday afternoon, snarling traffic on the state’s main north-south artery. 

Two people were killed and at least eight were injured and taken to area hospitals, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Jim Harris. 

Two big rigs initially collided, and were struck by two passenger vehicles on a bridge, Harris said. One semi’s diesel fuel tank ruptured and ignited, causing heavy smoke. 

Both fatalities were in the area of that initial crash, Harris said. 

There was patchy fog in the area, the highway patrol said, but it was not determined if it was a factor in the crash. 

A public transit bus carrying eight to 10 passengers was subsequently rear-ended by a passenger car as it slowed because of the crash. Then two more passenger vehicles collided on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge about a mile north of the airport as traffic slowed further, Harris said. 

Diesel fuel from the big rig spilled into neighboring waterways, turning the accident into a hazardous materials scene, Harris said. The Department of Fish and Game and Governor’s Office of Emergency Services were called in as a result.