Fiery Crash Kills Two, Injures Eight In San Jose
(CBS 5 / AP / BCN) SAN JOSE Two people were burned to death and eight more were injured in a fiery multi-vehicle wreck when a speeding pickup truck launched off a freeway exit embankment and slammed into a line of stopped cars, triggering a series of explosions, authorities said.
The Ford F-150 became airborne while exiting Interstate 280 about 8:30 p.m. on Monday night, plowing into a Nissan Frontier pickup, a Mazda minivan and a Volkswagen Bug waiting side-by-side at a stoplight at 11th Street in San Jose, said Officer Steve Perea of the California Highway Patrol.
The driver then reportedly lost control of the Ford, veered left up an embankment, and overturned onto its right side.
As the Ford pickup overturned, it hit a traffic signal, Perea said. The series of impacts with the other vehicles ruptured at least one of the vehicles' gas tanks.
The cars crunched together "like an accordion," and the Nissan burst into flames, killing both occupants, a 20-year-old female driver and a 20-year-old male passenger, Perea said. The pair, both San Jose residents, were trapped inside and "tragically...succumbed to the impact and the fire," he said.
The cornor's office had yet to release the victims identities as of Tuesday afternoon.
"The house and windows were shaking," said neighbor Allen Velton, who heard the collision inside his home and witnessed the explosion. "It sounded like a war, a bomb going off. We heard one, two, three explosions."
The Ford F-150 driver, John Mayfield, 51, of Paso Robles, remained hospitalized Tuesday with burns, lacerations and moderate head injuries, Perea said. He was not arrested but investigators were looking into the cause of the crash.
Perea said it was not yet clear why Mayfield lost control of his truck. It's possible he could face charges for two counts of vehicular homicide.
The passengers of the Mazda and the Volkswagon were hospitalized with minor to moderate injuries, Perea said. In all, he said the crash sent eight people to local hospitals.
According to San Jose Fire Department Capt. Jose Tuerrero, two San Jose police officers were among those injured as the fire was being extinguished.
The two officers were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and were expected to be released soon, he said.
Though investigators initially had believed that an infant had died in the crash, those reports were found to be inaccurate a short time later, Perea said.
The accident closed the 11th Street off-ramp on Monday night. Road crews on Tuesday were still working to clear away debris remnants from the crash.
(© 2006 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)