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Student, 20, Trucker Died in Fog : Crash: ‘These things always seem to happen to the nicest people,’ says the boss of 34-year-old man killed. CHP says pileup occurred in two stages.

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Stacey Lynn Long loved cars--including the Honda Civic she regularly drove from her father’s home in Claremont to her boyfriend’s apartment in Bakersfield.

In preparation for an upcoming local auto show, she was driving the car south Wednesday on her way to buy new tires in Upland when a heavy fog suddenly fell on the Golden State Freeway in Tejon Pass. The fog triggered a massive pileup involving at least 30 cars and more than a dozen large trucks.

Her car was hit repeatedly. Long, 20, was identified Thursday as one of the two people who died in the massive wreck.

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“She was very outgoing, had an excellent sense of humor and was a very caring, loving person,” said Robert O’Connor, a friend of the family, speaking from the home of Long’s mother in Helendale in San Bernardino County.

Long, who was a part-time student at Mt. San Antonio Community College in Walnut, shared her interest in cars with her boyfriend and stepbrother. “It’s something they’ve done all the way since high school,” said her stepfather, Jim Falk.

The other person killed in the pileup was Miguel Angel Leanos, 34, of Chula Vista, whose trailer truck slammed into the back of a milk truck. The cab of his truck was so badly damaged that it took rescue workers several hours to remove his body.

Leanos had worked for the past two years for J & J Trucking Co. of Chula Vista. “He was quiet,” said company owner Juan Fernandez. “These things always seem to happen to the nicest people.”

Leanos’ wife and two children suffered only minor injuries in the crash, even though, according to co-workers, they were also riding in the cab.

Authorities said Thursday it could take several days to determine the exact sequence of events that led to the chain-reaction pileup that began about 12:30 p.m. in Tejon Pass, about 65 miles north of Los Angeles.

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A California Highway Patrol major accident investigation team arrived on the scene Wednesday evening from its Fresno headquarters to coordinate the inquiry. Information was still being gathered Thursday from various points across the state.

“We’re still getting phone calls trickling in that someone was involved in the accident and they just couldn’t remain at the scene, and they drove off,” CHP Officer Mark Ehly said.

There were actually two accidents, he said. An unknown number of vehicles were involved in the first collision, and there was a 15-second delay before a second group slammed into the wreckage.

In addition, about 10 cars collided on the northbound side of the freeway about one-half mile south of the larger collision, and several smaller accidents were reported on the freeway near the Kern County line.

CHP officers closed all southbound lanes for about nine hours, causing a 15-mile backup, Ehly said. The northbound side was also jammed, with motorists reporting delays of up to two hours.

A total of 28 people was reported injured in the collisions, although that number could rise because of the reports still coming in, Ehly said.

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