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The Region

Car Slides Under Jet Fuel Tanker, Bringing I-5 to a Halt

June 13, 2002|CLAIRE LUNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A tanker truck was rear-ended Wednesday on Interstate 5 near Camp Pendleton, spilling its cargo of jet fuel, blocking southbound lanes for more than five hours and backing up traffic past San Clemente.

A car collided with the truck and slid underneath it, said Officer Phil Konstantin of the California Highway Patrol.

Witnesses to the 1:10 p.m. incident just south of Las Pulgas Road in San Diego County said two people in the sedan fled on foot.

U.S. Marine Corps personnel apprehended two people and turned them over to the CHP for questioning, Konstantin said.

The truck driver suffered minor injuries.

The freeway was closed in both directions from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. while a hazardous-materials unit mopped up 20 gallons of fuel that had spilled onto the road. All lanes reopened at 7:30 p.m.

Some travelers stuck in the jam that stretched more than 10 miles into Orange County used roadside shrubbery as a rest area.

One man with a bicycle pedaled to the front of the southbound traffic line and returned with word that the next exit was three miles away and that a cab up ahead wasn't moving but its meter was running nonetheless.

Hundreds of motorists got an impromptu tour of the Marine base when traffic was diverted off the freeway at the Las Pulgas exit.

A CHP officer pulled over and lectured one driver who tried to dodge the mess by driving in the emergency lane.

"It's slow-going," said Mark Reeves, another CHP officer. "But people have to be cautious when hazardous materials are involved."

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