LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. — At least 17 people were taken to hospitals Saturday after 22 vehicles and a big-rig collided in separate accidents on a fog-shrouded Interstate 15, authorities said.
It was not immediately clear if the first accident caused a chain reaction, but several crashes occurred within minutes of each other in the southbound lanes, which were closed for more than five hours after the morning crash, California Highway Patrol officer Phil Konstantin said.
Officers reported heavy fog at the time, with visibility as low as 15 feet, he said.
Twenty-two vehicles in all were involved, including a big-rig hauling eight autos, a truck hauling a horse trailer and one towing a boat, the CHP said.
Two people remained hospitalized Saturday afternoon.
A woman suffering abdominal pains was listed in stable condition at Sharp Health Care Murrieta, nursing supervisor Carol Ann Scarborough said. Four other people were treated at the medical center and released.
Anita Branard, 60, of Alta Loma suffered moderate chest injuries and was admitted for observation to Inland Valley Regional Hospital, spokesman Dan Dredla said. Ten people were treated and released.
The first accident, involving three cars, was reported about 7:20 a.m. near the Main Street exit. Three cars were traveling in the left lane when the second car tried to pass on the right, the CHP said. The second car, driven by Branard, hit the first vehicle in the rear. The third car, attempting to avoid the accident, swerved and sideswiped Branard.
About 35 minutes later, a second accident involving two cars occurred in the same vicinity.
CHP officers took reports on six other accidents, all within minutes of the second crash and possibly caused by drivers trying to avoid the previous accidents.