An 18-wheel tractor-trailer rig with faulty brakes plowed into congested traffic at 50 m.p.h. on southbound Interstate 5 Friday afternoon, causing minor injuries to three people and backing up cars for 7 miles until the wreck was cleared 3 hours later, authorities said.
Treated for minor injuries at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center were Mike Dabney, 36, of Dana Point; Guillermo Montez, 28, of San Leandro; and Kathy Illera, 19, of Laguna Niguel, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The truck driver, Enrico Santo Romero, 43, of Tijuana, who was not hurt in the 4 p.m. collision, was cited for speeding and operating an unsafe vehicle, California Highway Patrol spokesman Matt Clark said.
Romero was southbound in the slow lane of the freeway just south of Oso Parkway when he tried to brake for slowing traffic ahead, Clark said. The brakes of the empty rig didn’t work.
Romero crashed into the rear of a Mercedes-Benz stopped in traffic, pushing it into another lane and into the rear of a Chevrolet, which rolled over twice before landing upright, Clark said.
Romero’s truck, still rolling forward, slammed into a Nissan that hit a station wagon, Clark said. Romero’s truck plowed the now-tangled mass of cars for another 60 feet before stopping.
“It was just a miracle that there were only minor injuries,” Clark said.