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One Killed in Highway Crash as Dense Fog Cover Hangs On

January 25, 1986|BARRY S. SURMAN | Times Staff Writer

RIVERSIDE — Dense fog that caused at least a dozen collisions and one death Friday morning forced the California Highway Patrol to close a 10-mile stretch of westbound California 60 through northwestern Riverside County.

"There was almost zero visibility," said Officer Mike Devine, the CHP accident investigator in Riverside. The westbound highway, between Valley Way in Rubidoux and Interstate 15 in Mira Loma was closed for about two hours.

Robert S. Vargas of Riverside was killed when a truck driver slammed his tractor-trailer at a speed of 40 or 45 m.p.h. into the rear of Vargas' car. The truck driver, 49-year-old Romula Avina of Riverside, was arrested on suspicion of felony drunk driving and manslaughter, the Highway Patrol reported.

At least seven people were injured in other accidents involving at least 40 vehicles on the same westbound stretch of highway, authorities said. One accident involved a pickup truck driver who hit a motorcyclist and fled, the CHP said.

2nd Straight Day

It was the second consecutive day that Inland Empire freeways were shrouded with fog and plagued by accidents. A 23-vehicle collision on the southbound Interstate 15 in the Fontana area injured 14 people Thursday.

High humidity and calm winds were responsible for the dense fog, said Mark McKinley, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Los Angeles. Surface heating later in the day, he said, helped to dissipate the fog.

The forecast called for an end to the pattern of dense morning fog as Santa Ana winds, gusting to 20 m.p.h., began to blow Friday evening. The warm winds out of the north and northeast should keep skies fair and temperatures warm--with highs near 80--throughout the weekend.

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