Death, Injuries and Near-Misses Reported on an Icy Stretch of I-5

Interstate-5 was covered in a sheet of ice on Monday morning, leading to a crash that saw an emergency vehicle tossed from the roadway and down an embankment.

Posted: Feb. 21, 2019 11:26 AM
Updated: Feb. 21, 2019 2:25 PM

GRENADA, Calif. —

UPDATE: After a long morning responding to multiple serious crashes on an icy Interstate-5, California Highway Patrol (CHP) has released the details of several incidents that caused one death, multiple major injuries and a near-miss for emergency crews.

At 7:15 a.m., troopers and emergency crews responded to a 911 call reporting that a white Ford F-250 pickup with a cab-over camper had overturned on I-5 northbound just south of Grenada. The driver sustained "major injuries" in the crash and was rushed to Fairchild Medical Center in Yreka.

Just after 8 a.m., while crews from Grenada Fire Protection District had their GMC 3500 Rescue-type rig parked on the right shoulder as they responded to the wreck, a semi-truck began sliding out of control toward the scene.

"I heard the big rig and looked back to see it skidding out of control right toward the fire rig," said Officer Holden, a 17-year CHP veteran.

CHP said that the right side of the semi's sleeper berth hit the left-rear end of the fire rescue truck, tossing it down the embankment and causing it to roll. The semi continued to slide into the center divider of I-5 and came to a rest, blocking both northbound lanes. About 50-60 gallons of diesel spilled into the median.

The semi truck driver was uninjured, and no first responders were in or around the rescue truck when it was hit.

Then, around 7:40 a.m., CHP received another call — this one from a motorist who saw the result of a single-car crash on I-5 northbound near the Grenada Irrigation District overpass. The motorist pulled over to help, but believed that the driver of the crashed vehicle was dead and his passengers were injured.

When Cal Fire crews arrived on the scene, they found a blue 1998 Ford Explorer wedged against a tree in a drainage canal. They found a dead 81-year-old man from Mount Shasta in the car, plus 78-year-old twin sisters, also from Mount Shasta, suffering from major injuries. They were brought to Mercy Medical Center in Mount Shasta.

"The California Highway Patrol wants to remind everyone to slow down when roadways are icy. All of the collisions this morning may have been prevented if drivers had reduced their speeds," CHP said. "After recent snow and/or rain, ice can build up quickly on the road. Check your tires to make sure they are adequate for ice and snow."

In all, CHP said that troopers responded to 16 crashes on the highways between the Yreka and Mount Shasta area, not including many others reported within city limits. Temperatures fell to as low as 11-19 degrees in some areas of Siskiyou County, the agency said, and dispatch was flooded with 911 calls in the span of just a few hours as the crashes piled up.

(Updated 2/21/19 at 2 p.m.)

INITIAL REPORT: A series of crashes on Interstate-5 in Siskiyou County underlined the dangers of icy road conditions on Monday morning, though the incident remains under investigation.

Around 7:20 a.m., crews from CalFire, Mount Shasta Ambulance and Grenada Fire-Rescue all responded to a crash involving a vehicle towing a trailer. Then, just after 8 a.m., dispatch put out a call for a vehicle over an embankment at the same scene.

The vehicle was Grenada Fire-Rescue Unit 343, which had apparently been struck and thrown from the roadway, causing it to roll down the side.

According to CalFire, no one was inside the fire unit at the time of impact, but it remains unclear whether there were any injuries in the crash or others in the area. Tweets from Caltrans District 2 indicated that there was at least one roll-over crash and multiple spin-outs on I-5 in Siskiyou County around that time.

California Highway Patrol (CHP) was investigating the Grenada crash. This is a developing story, and NewsWatch 12 will be posting more information as it emerges.

Caltrans continued to post regarding crashes and road closures along I-5 in Siskiyou County well into Monday morning.

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