A Brink's armored truck guard was crushed to death under a number of 25-pound boxes of quarters on Monday when the driver braked suddenly to avoid a car.
Hrand L. Arakelian, 34, of Santee was riding in the back of the truck when the driver hit the brakes and part of the load of $50,000 in quarters toppled on him.
The accident occurred on the San Diego Freeway near the Lake Forest Drive exit in south county, authorities said.
The driver, Scott Daniel Bauman, 29, of Northridge, pulled to the shoulder and discovered his partner buried under the boxes. In "his haste" to aid Arakelian, Bauman inadvertently locked the key to the back door inside the truck, then drove to the nearest exit, said Pat Antrim, information officer for the Orange County Fire Department. "Anything that could go wrong, went wrong," Antrim said.
When Bauman pulled off the Lake Forest exit to call paramedics, he realized the door was locked. A bystander ran to a nearby store and summoned a locksmith.
"When I opened the door, the gentleman's feet were sticking out from underneath the pallets. He was completely covered by boxes of coins," said locksmith Bud Pehrson of Kustom Locksmith Service. Pehrson said he opened the lock in a matter of seconds.
Paramedics, who arrived at about the same time Pehrson opened the truck, had to remove the boxes before reaching Arakelian.
"They were just unloading these small boxes, one by one. They were very heavy. He was covered by these boxes. They were frantically working to uncover him," said Tom Corrigan, another locksmith.
The truck carried 100 boxes, each containing $500 in quarters, said Ken Daily, California Highway Patrol public affairs officer. The boxes were on pallets, which are portable platforms used for transportation. At least one of the pallets sat on a dolly, which rolled over when the driver hit the brakes, Daily said.
Arakelian apparently was not sitting in the seat assigned for the back truck guard, Daily said. The seat is located in an area that is protected from any shifting of load, Daily said.
Officials with Brink's Inc. declined to comment Monday.
The CHP had no other information on the dark-colored car that had pulled in front of the Brink's truck, forcing the truck driver to brake. The truck was on its way from Los Angeles to San Diego when the accident occurred about 8:45 a.m., Daily said. An autopsy will be performed.