A runaway truck carrying hazardous materials crashed into 11 other vehicles on Interstate 5 north of Tejon Pass on Wednesday, injuring 11 people and closing all northbound lanes for almost three hours, the California Highway Patrol said.
The accident happened in thick fog shortly before 1 p.m. on the long grade that descends from the mountains into the southern San Joaquin Valley.
The truck finally slammed into the center divider and came to a stop near Grapevine Road after leaving a trail of damaged cars along 1 1/2 miles of freeway.
CHP Office Scott Jobinger said 11 people were injured and taken to area hospitals, including four who were seriously injured and had to be airlifted by helicopter. He added that it did not appear that there would be any fatalities.
Jobinger said accident investigators will look into the truck driver's statement that his brakes failed on the downhill section of Tejon Pass near the Lebec exit at the Los Angeles County-Kern County line. Fog also might have been a factor in the accident by obscuring the entrance to a runaway truck ramp on the side of the highway.
"Visibility was between 200 and 400 feet. That is bad, " Jobinger said. "Drivers should slow down and use caution in foggy areas."
The truck driver, who was unhurt, had not been cited for any traffic violation Wednesday night. His load of corrosive liquid did not spill in the crash.
Until the northbound 5 reopened about 4 p.m., motorists were forced to take a 117-mile detour using the Pearblossom Highway, the Antelope Valley Freeway and California 58 to get back to I-5.
Before the crash, heavy fog that blanketed the southern San Joaquin Valley earlier in the day had made its way into Tejon Pass by early afternoon.
Jobinger said that because of the limited visibility, CHP officers were pacing or periodically slowing traffic on the I-5 on Wednesday afternoon to keep it at a safe speed.
The National Weather Service has issued a dense fog advisory for the central and southern areas of the San Joaquin Valley between 6 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. today, warning motorists of potentially dangerous road conditions.