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Truck carrying inmate firefighters involved in fatal crash

A vehicle collided head-on Tuesday with a truck carrying inmates from a Los Angeles County fire crew, leaving two people dead and several others critically injured.

The force of the crash on California Highway 138 near Gorman caused the boxy truck to roll about 150 feet and hurled inmates onto the pavement, officials said.

The driver of the other vehicle, a Subaru Forester, and an inmate were pronounced dead at the scene, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

“Some of the members were ejected, and some trapped inside,” Fire Inspector Matt Levesque said of the inmates.

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Rescuers had to use special equipment to free several inmates from the truck.

The accident occurred about 2:20 p.m. as the fire crew truck traveled east near Quail Lake Road.

Preliminary evidence indicates that the Subaru veered across the roadway and into the oncoming truck, CHP Officer John Lutz said.

A dozen inmates were riding in the truck, which was driven by a county firefighter who serves as the foreman for the hand crew. Officials said it was unclear how many of the inmates were critically injured.

The hand crew is one of four assigned to Camp 14 near Santa Clarita, fire officials said.

For years, the county Fire Department has supervised inmates from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation at five camps across the county. The inmates augment hand crews from four other camps staffed by county firefighters who cut fire breaks to prevent or battle brush fires.

The inmates had been clearing brush from fire breaks or roadsides as part of their daily assignment, officials said.

The names of those killed had not been released late Tuesday, but Lutz said the Subaru driver was between 75 and 85 years old. The injured victims were taken to several area hospitals, officials said.

A stretch of Highway 138 was closed in both directions.

robert.lopez@latimes.com


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