FULLERTON (AP) — An eight-vehicle accident that killed one person and injured several others in Southern California began when a speeding pickup truck crossed into oncoming lanes and then flew into the air as the driver tried to swerve back to safety, police said Friday.
The crash about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles happened around 4 p.m. Thursday when the driver of a bright yellow Ford F-150 drove into oncoming lanes to pass cars backed up at a stoplight, Fullerton police Sgt. Jeff Stuart said.
Tire marks indicate the driver tried to veer back into his own lane at the last minute, but he was going too fast and instead the truck went airborne and crashed into cars waiting on the other side of the intersection.
The truck driver, Adrian Davis, 57, of Brea, died in the crash. At least three others were injured.
"There is a gouge in the street where it looks like it's the side of his tire and wheel rim digging in," Stuart said. "It's marks that are made when you've lost control of your vehicle."
Witnesses told police that Davis' car went "completely airborne," and one person said it went "as high as the telephone poles," Stuart said.
Photos show the crumpled truck upside-down on top of other vehicles with debris and car parts scattered across the intersection. Stuart said the truck was flying with such force that it actually cleared the top of the first car at the light before crashing down on others.
"I've never seen an accident like this," he said.
The accident happened on a busy, six-lane arterial street in a commercial area of Fullerton, a college town of about 135,000 people in northern Orange County.
The street, with a posted 50 mph speed limit, is lined with a medical complex, a bank, a bus stop and other stores and gives easy access to several freeways.
Investigators haven't determined how fast the pickup was going, but some witnesses put its speed at 100 mph, Stuart said.
It's unclear why Davis, who was alone in the pickup, was driving so fast. There is no sign he braked before going airborne, Stuart said.
Police hope to use surveillance camera footage to help reconstruct the wreck.
"It's a pretty horrendous crash. We're lucky we didn't have more fatalities than this," Stuart said.