Unanswered calls lead to heartbreaking realization for stepdaughter of man killed in crash near Rialto
When Maylette Brown saw news reports about a deadly freeway crash near Rialto, one of the cars looked familiar to her.
Brown, who was on her way to visit her parents in Twentynine Palms, called her stepfather, Duddley White.
He didn’t pick up.
As the hours passed, she kept calling. By 8:30 p.m., the calls were going straight to voicemail.
“At 10:30, I got the phone call from the sheriff’s department in Twentynine Palms,” said Brown, 44, of Winchester. “I just told them I knew, I felt it, and I just wanted to make sure.”
White, 74, was one of five people killed when a concrete truck traveling eastbound on the 10 Freeway near Rialto swerved through the center divider shortly before 1 p.m. Friday. The truck careened into the westbound lanes, crashing head-on into a smaller truck and four other cars and sparking a fire, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Five people, all occupants of vehicles struck by the truck, were pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said. The truck driver, who was not identified, sustained only minor injuries and was not hospitalized, according to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Spencer Badal.
The cause of the crash remains unclear. The victims were severely burned, and none have been positively identified yet, Badal said.
The crash left several vehicles overturned and charred in the roadway, shutting down some lanes for more than 12 hours, authorities said. The freeway was not fully reopened until roughly 8 a.m. Saturday, Badal said.
CHP investigators will conduct a “full mechanical review” of the truck, but Badal said those hoping for answers will likely have to wait.
“Their report will take a considerable amount of time,” he said.
The concrete truck was registered to Western Concrete Pumping, a company based in Vista in San Diego County, according to Badal. An employee who answered the phone at the company’s office declined to comment. The company was formed in 1986 and does business in California, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arizona, according to its website.
Brown said her stepfather, who raised her from a young age, was a retired machinist and avid billiards player who cared for her mother in Twentynine Palms. A consummate handyman, White still performed repairs on all the family vehicles. He was driving home from a hardware store when the wreck occurred, Brown said.
“He was well-known, very respected,” she said of her father’s reputation around Twentynine Palms.
Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.
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