Unsafe speeds appear to have triggered Monday’s fiery crash on Interstate 5 in Woodland that killed two adults and a 2-year-old girl, California Highway Patrol officials said Tuesday.
Yolo County coroner’s officials still have not positively identified the dead, who included a 53-year-old man and a 49-year-old woman from Monmouth, Ore., who were traveling in a 2004 Chevy Tahoe, according to the CHP.
The toddler, who was in a 1996 Acura Integra with a 61-year-old man and 21-year-old woman, was from Tacoma, Wash.
Chief Deputy Coroner Robert LaBrash said further testing would be required before his office could issue a ruling on their causes of death.
In a news release issued Tuesday afternoon, CHP Officer Cindy Leal said although the crash remains under investigation, it appears the 12:43 p.m. collision occurred when 38-year-old Carlos Hernandez of Elk Grove drove his box truck at an unsafe speed on southbound I-5 south of Highway 113, where traffic ahead of him had either slowed or stopped as it moved through a construction zone.
Hernandez changed from the slow lane to the fast lane, slamming his truck into five other vehicles, and five of the six became engulfed in flames, Leal said.
Three people were pronounced dead at the scene, while seven others — including Hernandez — were transported to area hospitals with injuries including cuts, broken bones and burns.
Neither alcohol nor drugs were believed to be factors in the crash, Leal said.
Ages of the surviving victims ranged from 4 to 61. They hailed from as far north as Tacoma to Bellflower in Southern California. None of the parties was from Yolo County.
Only one of the involved vehicles, a 2010 Ford van, avoided major damage in the crash, Leal said. Neither the 51-year-old driver nor her six passengers, Clearlake and Lower Lake residents whose ages ranged from 15 to 20, were injured.
The collision is being investigated by the CHP Valley Division’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team. Anyone who witnessed the collision or who has any other information that would aid the investigation is urged to call at (916) 464-2080.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene