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Toxic Cargo Scattered, 1 Killed in Accident on 91 Freeway in Anaheim

December 04, 1987|DOUG BROWN | Times Staff Writer

A 19-year-old woman was killed and three people were injured in a chain-reaction crash that closed the Riverside Freeway in Anaheim for three hours early Thursday while hazardous-materials experts checked for spilled radioactive matter.

But after examining the boxes of radioactive pharmaceutical supplies thrown from one of the vehicles, the Anaheim Fire Department's hazardous-response team determined that none of the material had leaked from shipping containers, authorities said.

Killed in the three-vehicle accident was Jennifer Ann Graves of Riverside, who was pinned underneath her truck when it was hit after she and a passenger had climbed out of it, California Highway Patrol spokesman Paul Caldwell said.

The chain reaction began at 3:20 a.m. Thursday on the eastbound Riverside Freeway (California 91) east of Tustin Avenue, when Graves' pickup truck hit the center divider, Caldwell said. The truck spun around and overturned on its side, with half the vehicle resting in the fast lane and the other half in the center emergency lane.

Driver, Passenger Hurt

Graves and her passenger, Ray Leathers, 19, of Anaheim, crawled out of the truck, Caldwell said. Graves had moderate injuries, and Leathers had minor injuries from that crash, he said.

Then, a motorcyclist, whose identity was not immediately available Thursday, pulled into the emergency lane behind the truck to check on the occupants, turning on his emergency flashing lights to warn oncoming traffic, Caldwell said.

About three minutes later, Michael G. De Luca, 20, of Yorba Linda hit the truck and pushed it on top of Graves and Leathers, who were lying in the emergency lane, Caldwell said.

De Luca told CHP investigators that he had been distracted by the flashing lights and did not see Graves' truck in time to stop, Caldwell said. He said he swerved to the right to avoid hitting the truck.

Graves was killed instantly, Caldwell said, and Leathers received additional injuries.

Boxes Scattered

When De Luca swerved, he struck a car driven by Mary Louise Boyd, 46, of Long Beach, who was hauling low-grade radioactive pharmaceutical materials, Caldwell said.

The identity of the company Boyd worked for was not immediately known, he said.

That collision scattered the boxes of radioactive materials across the freeway, Caldwell said. Within minutes CHP officers arrived and closed both directions of the Riverside Freeway between the Orange Freeway and Tustin Avenue, he said. It was reopened at 6 a.m.

Leathers, who suffered moderate injuries, was taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, Caldwell said. De Luca, who suffered minor injuries, was taken to Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Anaheim. Boyd, who suffered minor injuries, was taken to Western Medical Center.

No charges have been filed in the accident, but an investigation is continuing, Caldwell said.

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