A carjacker stole a car Monday afternoon with a 3-year-old boy inside and left the child on a sidewalk before causing a five-vehicle, wrong-way crash on the 210 Freeway that left a man dead, authorities said.
Three other people, along with the 27-year-old suspect, were injured in the crash, which closed a stretch of the eastbound freeway in Claremont for what authorities estimated would be until at least midnight.
The chaos began when the woman stole the vehicle from a father whose son was strapped in a car seat inside the vehicle, said Sgt. Saul Gomez of the California Highway Patrol. The carjacking was reported to San Bernardino police about 3:25 p.m.
The father pleaded with a passerby to follow the woman, and together, the pair tailed her. Eventually, they lost sight of the car.
Just more than a mile from where the car was stolen, the woman pulled over, carried the boy out of the car and left him on a sidewalk near Temple and H streets, according to authorities. The child was found safe, Gomez said.
Sometime after that, the woman entered the 210 Freeway in the wrong direction, traveling west in the eastbound carpool lane. The deadly crash occurred on the freeway just before Mills Avenue.
A Fontana man in his 60s was killed, while two others sustained moderate injuries and one more person had minor injuries. The suspect, a Santa Clarita woman who was not named, was in serious condition.
"It's a gruesome scene," Gomez said.
The first witness to call police about the wrong-way driver did so at 3:45 p.m., 20 minutes after the carjacking.
"There's a timeline we're going to have to fill," Gomez said. "We're still trying to figure out why she was going the wrong way."
11:10 p.m.: This article was updated to reflect that the eastbound lanes of the freeway are still closed.