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Three dead in wrong-way freeway crash; northbound I-805 shut down at La Jolla Village Drive

Three dead in wrong-way freeway crash; northbound I-805 shut down at La Jolla Village Drive
A still from a cellphone video shows a vehicle on fire Thursday in the northbound lanes of Interstate 805 near La Jolla Village Drive. Three people died in the wrong-way collision. (Courtesy Mariwan R. Hama)

Three people were killed and one was seriously injured Thursday in a fiery wrong-way crash that halted traffic on northbound Interstate 805 near Sorrento Valley in San Diego County, authorities said.

The accident was reported about 4:35 p.m. near La Jolla Village Drive and Miramar Road, and all northbound lanes were shut down, according to the California Highway Patrol. Northbound traffic was diverted off the freeway at the La Jolla Village Drive exit.

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Three people were killed in the collision, CHP Officer Jake Sanchez said. A fourth person was seriously injured but expected to survive.

Nearly a dozen vehicles were involved, with “multiple vehicles on fire,” CHP Officer Mary Bailey said.

The collision halted rush-hour traffic a little south of where Interstates 5 and 805 meet in the “Golden Triangle.”

One witness told officers the crash was caused by a driver who was speeding the wrong way in a carpool lane, according to an online CHP incident log.

The car appeared to be going more than 100 mph when it crashed head-on with another vehicle. Other motorists said a motorcyclist appeared to be involved and at least three vehicles were on fire.

One person who called 911 told dispatchers, “The whole northbound side [of the freeway] is on fire.”

Mariwan Hama was southbound on the freeway when he and his family saw dark smoke ahead of them, Hama said in a telephone interview Thursday evening. He thought it must have been a small vegetation fire until they approached the crash scene and saw two vehicles engulfed in flames.

“People were running around … and someone was on the ground,” Hama said. “They were trying to help him, he was raising his hand, and they were just surrounding him.”

Police and paramedics had not arrived as Hama and his family drove past the wreckage. Hama said at least one person was using a small fire extinguisher to battle the heavy flames engulfing what appeared to be an SUV.

Large debris from the crash ended up in southbound lanes of the freeway, including what appeared to be an entire bumper, Hama said.

Riggins and Winkley write for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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