San Fernando Valley : Crash Tosses Up a Freeway Salad

Heads rolled Friday morning in Sherman Oaks.

Thousands of leafy heads of lettuce spilled over the Ventura Freeway, creating a massive traffic jam at the San Fernando Valley’s busiest freeway interchange when a tractor-trailer truck tipped over.

The 35,000 pounds of produce was seasoned by more than 100 gallons of the truck’s diesel fuel, creating a mix even Paul Newman would hate.

“It was the worst mess I’ve ever seen,” said KYSR-FM disc jockey Paul Freeman of Woodland Hills, who was late to his show because of the mishap.


The California Highway Patrol blamed the mess on a trucker driving “at an unsafe speed.” His load shifted in a curve, dragging the truck into a guardrail, where it overturned.

Out tumbled the lettuce, blocking the eastbound Ventura Freeway and the lanes leading to the San Diego Freeway.

The trucker and his passenger were treated for minor injuries at Sherman Oaks Medical Center. Spilled diesel fuel, classified as hazardous waste, was sucked out of the drains at the side of the freeway, which would have funneled it into the Los Angeles River. Six dump trucks carted away the lettuce.