A CHP officer was injured in a fiery crash on Interstate 5 near Camp Pendleton on Tuesday. The accident blocked all northbound lanes and tied up traffic for hours.
Officer Jaime Erebia, 29, was reported in serious condition Tuesday night at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla after escaping from his burning patrol car, which had been struck from behind by a tractor-trailer rig about noon.
The accident was triggered when Erebia saw a pickup truck attempting to make a U-turn in the center divider of the freeway about 4 miles north of the Las Pulgas Road exit, a California Highway Patrol spokeswoman said. Erebia was apparently attempting to maneuver his patrol car onto the right shoulder of the freeway when the rear of the car, which was jutting into the slow lane, was struck by a truck driven by Pedro Barrera, 28, of Tijuana, the spokeswoman said.
The CHP cruiser was slammed into the brush on the side of the road and burst into flames, she said. Erebia raced from the car, then collapsed into the brush. He was dragged to safety by two Marines who stopped to help, the spokeswoman said.
Another witness called the CHP with a description and license plate of the pickup truck Erebia was trying to stop, and a check revealed that it had been reported stolen in San Diego on Saturday, she said.