I-5 Reopens 26 Hours After Deadly Pileup

From Associated Press

Traffic cautiously moved through the fog once again Friday morning on Interstate 5, 26 hours after 37 big rigs, pickups and cars crashed together and killed five people.

The closure, needed to clear the wreckage and search for victims and clues to the cause, was one of the longest accident-related shutdowns of a major California highway.

Cleanup crews worked under floodlights all Thursday night. Despite fears that more bodies might be discovered in the tangled wreckage, no more victims were found.

Nine big rigs and 28 pickups and cars smashed together in heavy fog on northbound Interstate 5 south of Sacramento at sunrise Thursday. Earlier reports had indicated that 36 vehicles were involved.

Drivers reported hitting sudden patches of dense fog, and the California Highway Patrol said fog and speed were likely culprits in the pileup, although the cause was still being investigated.

CHP spokesman Brent Carter said Friday that investigators will be contacting drivers and witnesses and that final answers are not expected soon.

"They will pretty much reconstruct the whole scene," he said. "It will take some time. It will take months and months."

About 8 1/2 miles of the four-lane freeway, California's principal north-south highway, was closed until 9:10 a.m. Friday.

CHP cars escorted the first vehicles through the fog after the opening and stayed on the freeway as fog lingered into the afternoon.

After crews finished clearing the wreckage early Friday, the CHP's Major Accident Investigation Team inspected the highway for additional evidence but found nothing significant to help determine the cause of the accident, the agency said.

Caltrans workers used water from large tankers to remove grease, oil, soot and other evidence of the carnage before the roadway was reopened.

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