Traffic backed up for 20 miles on Interstate 15 after deadly crash
Drivers headed toward Las Vegas were still dealing with a 20-mile backup on the northbound Interstate 15 on Saturday evening as officials wrapped up their investigation of a fiery crash that killed one person and sent a tour bus careening off the highway into the open desert.
California Highway Patrol officials shut down both lanes of the I-15 shortly after the crash about 11 a.m. Drivers were halted at the Apton Road exit north of Barstow and told to turn around or to take an extended detour to Las Vegas through the back roads in the Mojave National Preserve.
About 5 p.m., CHP Officer Don Spiker said investigators were three-quarters of the way through their work. Once they finish, officers will let tow trucks remove the pickup truck that rolled over the median and slammed into the side of an Eagle Tours bus that had started its trip in El Monte and was headed to Las Vegas.
The driver of the pickup truck, who has not been identified, was killed in the crash near the Zzyzx Road exit at Mile Marker 130. The bus driver, 56-year-old Jimmy Ming Giang, suffered a major laceration on his left leg and was airlifted to University Medical Center. The 30 passengers on the bus are visiting from China, Spiker said. Five had minor injuries and were treated at area hospitals. The other buss waited hours for a second tour bus to pick them up.
The extended backup along the highway led many drivers to try to get around the traffic by driving on unmaintained roads in the area, leading as many as half a dozen to get stuck in the soft desert sand. Much of the CHP’s manpower was focused in that area between Baker and Barstow on Saturday, either helping to direct traffic around the area or helping stranded motorists on the sandy back roads.
Earlier, when both lanes were closed, some drivers resorted to an extended detour to Las Vegas: taking Interstate 40 from Barstow to Kelbaker Road and traveling through the Mojave National Preserve to Baker, where they were able to return to Interstate 15 north of the accident.
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