All lanes of the Santa Ana (5) Freeway in Commerce are open this morning after a nearly 24-hour closure for the investigation and clean up following a crash that left three people dead and four injured — two critically, California Highway Patrol officials said.
The deceased victims were a male and a female, both in their teens, who were returning from a visit to Disneyland in a gray Nissan, according to news reports.
Her parents identified the female victim as 19-year-old Michelle Littlefield, a student studying business at College of the Canyons and an employee at Six Flags Magic Mountain, according to media reports.
The third victim was identified on a Teamsters Local 396 Facebook page as 52-year-old Scott Treadway of Mira Loma who had been with UPS for 30 years.
In the aftermath of the crash, one of the motorists, Whittier resident Dealio Lockhart, 35, was arrested and could face vehicular manslaughter charges, CHP investigators said.
The driver of a second car, a Dodge Charger, is still being sought.
Paramedics rushed two other people, reported to have been in the Nissan, to County/USC Medical Center with major injuries, according to the CHP.
At least one of them was in extremely critical condition, according to reports.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Miguel Ornelas told City News Service that two more people suffered minor injuries and were transported to another hospital.
It all began shortly after midnight Saturday when Treadway’s UPS big rig collided with one of two vehicles that was engaged in street racing, sending the truck into oncoming lanes on the 5 Freeway, CHP investigators said.
The drivers of two cars were racing just after midnight on the southbound side of the freeway near Garfield Avenue when one – a black Dodge Challenger — clipped a UPS big rig that became airborne, collided with northbound vehicles and caught fire, the CHP reported.
In the aftermath of the crash, one of the motorists, Whittier resident Dealio Lockhart, 35, was arrested and could face vehicular manslaughter charges, according to the CHP.
Crews worked to remove the burned out big-rig and its charred contents and repair road damage, CHP officials said.
Lockhart, driving the Challenger, was racing a Dodge Charger when he saw a slower moving vehicle ahead and was attempting to get around the vehicle, at the same time the vehicle was moving to the right, a CHP statement said.
He applied his brakes, lost control of the car and struck the side of the UPS tractor trailer, which became airborne, hit the gray Nissan and sheared off its top.
The big rig came to rest on top of a red Ford Explorer on the northbound side of the freeway, north of Washington Boulevard, and immediately became engulfed in flames.
“It was fully engulfed and there were explosions at the scene from the truck which could have been tires exploding or the gas tanks,” CHP Officer Francisco Villalobos said.
Debris from the collision struck a Chevrolet Tahoe and Chevrolet Silverado, which were traveling on the northbound side. Treadway, Littlefield and her male friends were pronounced dead at the scene.
The crash also created a nightmare for motorists, backing up north and southbound traffic on the freeway for miles, according to the CHP.
Lockhart, meanwhile, was being held at the Inmate Reception Center in downtown Los Angeles in lieu of $1 million bail and is due in court on Tuesday, also in downtown Los Angeles, according to sheriff’s online jail records.
Anyone with information regarding the crash was asked to call the CHP’s East Los Angeles office at (323) 980-4600.