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Big-rig collision causes gridlock on Highway 14

Three men injured in crash

Posted: September 16, 2008 8:44 p.m.
Updated: November 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The aftermath of a crash Tuesday when a big-rig slammed into a SUV and went off an embankment on Highway 14 in Agua Dulce.

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A tractor trailer slammed into a sport utility vehicle before plunging 75 feet down the embankment near Highway 14 and Agua Dulce Canyon Road on Tuesday, trapping the trucker in his inverted cab, a CHP official said.

The collision caused injuries to three men and backed up traffic for more than a mile, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Ben Dibene said.

The trucker was trying to turn off the highway at about 8:54 a.m. when he failed to stop, struck a GMC Suburban and dropped 75 feet down the side of the off-ramp and became trapped upside down in his cab for more than an hour, CHP Sgt. Ben Dibene said.

More than 20 firefighters descended into the ravine to rescue the driver, said Inspector Paul Hartwell of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. They doused the truck with fire retarding foam and searched for enough crawl space to reach the driver. Rescuers hooked a tow truck cable to the stranded rig and moved it enough to pull the driver to safety. The truck driver was airlifted to Providence Holy Cross Hospital at approximately 10 a.m. with moderate injuries, Hartwell said.

"He was complaining of back pain," Hartwell said.

Two male passengers in the SUV were taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital; one in critical condition and one with minor injuries, Hartwell said.

Southbound traffic on Highway 14 backed up more than a mile during the rescue. Dozens of onlookers lined the rim of the canyon watching the rescue. The crowd dispersed when the driver was removed from the truck alive.

"I've seen people killed in these types of crashes and seen others walk away," Hartwell said. "No, surprise, a lot depends on whether the driver is wearing a seat belt." It was unknown if the truck driver was wearing a seat belt.

ounty Fire Health/Hazmat crews were cleaning up the diesel fuel spilled from the truck. The crew will look for fuel that might have seeped into the ground. If the ground is contaminated, it will dig up the soil and take it to a treatment facility, Hartwell said.

The Los Angeles City Fire Department removed the big rig.with a crane.

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