Mission Hills : Freeway Crash Kills 1; Fog Closes Airports

A thick fog shrouded the San Fernando Valley Thursday morning, forcing air-traffic controllers to reroute planes from the Burbank and Van Nuys airports and causing several car crashes, including one that killed a 37-year-old Los Angeles man on the Simi Valley Freeway.

That accident, a five-car chain-reaction hit-and-run collision at about 6:30 a.m., started when an unidentified car speeding west on the freeway just east of the San Diego Freeway interchange abruptly switched lanes, forcing 37-year-old Vicenta Madrid to swerve her Toyota, CHP Officer Dwight McDonald said.

Madrid’s car then hit a Hyundai, which was rear-ended by a station wagon that was itself hit by another car, McDonald said.

The car that authorities say caused the accident and the car that rear-ended the station wagon both sped off, the officer said.


Two of the Hyundai’s occupants, the driver and a passenger from the station wagon and Madrid all suffered major to moderate injuries and were taken to nearby hospitals, McDonald said.

Oscar Rosales, 37, of Los Angeles, who was sleeping on the rear seat of the Hyundai without a seat belt at the time of the crash, died at the scene, the officer said.

The freeway was jammed for about five hours following the accident, McDonald said, which had been preceded 30 minutes earlier and a few miles east by a nonfatal, seven-car crash.

McDonald said the extremely dense fog that hung over the San Fernando Valley Thursday morning made freeway travel extremely dangerous.

“We try to get people to slow down,” he said. “But there’s not enough of us out there to slow everyone down.”

Motorists weren’t the only commuters whose schedules were scrambled by the fog. Spokeswomen for Burbank and Van Nuys airports said several incoming flights were re-routed early Thursday when visibility over the Valley ranged from only three-fourths of a mile down to zero.