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Fog Touches Off Multi-Car Accidents, Shows Signs of Settling in for Weekend

Times Staff Writers

Low clouds and fog intermittently gloomed the valleys and coastline of Southern California on Thursday, touching off multi-car traffic accidents, slowing operations at most airports--and showing signs of settling in for the weekend.

National Weather Service meteorologists said the inland high-pressure area that kept skies clear and temperatures high earlier in the week is weakening and allowing a stronger sea breeze to push moisture across the shoreline and into both coastal and inland areas.

AN early-morning accident--possibly related to the fog--killed a 16-year-old Corona youth on Thursday, creating a 1 1/2-hour traffic jam that brought morning commuter traffic on the Riverside Freeway to a virtual standstill.

Traffic in the freeway’s westbound lanes already was congested when Brandon R. Paul’sVolkswagen bug slammed into the rear of a Chevrolet Blazer, said John Anderson, public information officer for the California Highway Patrol in Riverside.

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The Volkswagen, which had been traveling about 50 or 55 m.p.h., burst into flames on impact, he said. The youth had received his driver’s license in November.

Efforts by passers-by to rescue Paul--including those of a truck driver who dumped 11 five-gallon bottles of drinking water on the burning car--were unsuccessful. The freeway was blocked from 7:43 to about 9:15 a.m.

Visibility was poor at the time of the collision, Anderson said. “It was foggy. Whether (the accident) was related to the fog, I don’t know.” About 18 other accidents, none of them involving serious injuries, were blamed on the dense morning fog in the area.

Patches of fog that dropped visibility to less than 30 feet were blamed for three rush-hour accidents involving 19 vehicles on a 1 1/2-mile stretch of southbound Interstate 15, said Sgt. Ron Newton of the Highway Patrol in Ontario.

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The collisions, involving 11 cars and eight tractor-trailers, blocked two lanes of the freeway--near the Riverside-San Bernardino County line--for about 1 1/2 hours. An empty gasoline tanker rolled over, but there was no threat of explosion, Newton said.

“The accidents occurred when vehicles slowed abruptly in a heavy fog bank and were rear-ended or pushed into other vehicles,” Newton said. “Visibility was reported to be 10 to 30 feet at the time of the collisions.”


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