A bus transporting prisoners from Long Beach to the Men's Central Jail collided with an empty tanker trailer Wednesday night on the Long Beach Freeway, injuring 20 prisoners, two sheriff's deputies and the truck driver, authorities said.
"It could have been a major catastrophe if that tanker were loaded," said California Highway Patrol Officer Lyle Whitten.
The driver of the tanker was in critical condition and taken to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center where he was being treated for head and abdominal injuries, a hospital spokesman said. The prisoners and the deputies all suffered minor to moderate injuries.
The 6:17 p.m. accident, which halted traffic for several hours on the northbound lanes and on the transition road near the Del Amo Boulevard off-ramp, occurred when the driver of the tanker abruptly changed lanes, striking a car and forcing it into the freeway center divider, Whitten said. The truck then jackknifed into the path of the bus, which was carrying 56 prisoners and two deputies, he said.
There were no escape attempts.