Truck Smashes California House; Three Dead

Some sections of home buried in gravel.


 
 

ROBERT JABLON and JOHN MONE, Associated Press Writers | | Tuesday, August 24, 2010


VIDEOS

Multimedia Thumb

Raw Video: California Truck Crash

Crash killed two adults and one child.
more >





SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Authorities were trying to determine whether it was mechanical or operational failure that caused a runaway truck hauling tons of gravel to fly off an embankment and crush a home, killing a man, a woman and a child inside.

The truck's brakes might have failed as it careened along State Highway 154 and through two intersections, then hit two parked cars before plunging down a driveway onto the house Tuesday, authorities said.

"Completely flattened it," Santa Barbara County fire Capt. David Sadecki said.

The truck driver, Joaquin Garcia Morales, had just collected a load of gravel from a nearby rock quarry.

Witnesses reported seeing smoke billowing from under the truck as it headed downhill on Highway 154 and reached 50 mph, California Highway Patrol Officer Jeremy Wayland said.

Morales managed to avoid a motel and steered the truck into a side street before crashing.

A California Highway Patrol website that logs traffic incidents initially said the brakes of the truck had failed. Wayland later said the cause remained under investigation.

Alcohol was not suspected to be a factor, and there were no immediate charges filed.

Erasmo Zapien, 64, who lives next door to the destroyed home, said he heard an enormous crash, then saw the family's house collapse.

"Everything fell down," he said. "It was completely down."

Emergency crews arrived within minutes and scrambled to dig out rubble and gravel under the truck to reach the victims.

Morales was treated for a minor facial cut after the vehicle landed on the 1,000-square-foot, wooden home that had been built more than 50 years ago.

It was one of two homes on the lot that were surrounded by mini-storage units. Both sat below the embankment and could not be seen from the roadway.

Wayland said Morales initially suspected something was wrong with his brakes after collecting his load but decided they were in good enough shape to keep driving. The tractor section of the truck was owned by Morales, who was leasing the two trailers he was hauling.

Barbra Trouche, who runs the front office at Aegis Medical Systems, called 911 when a patient who had just left ran back inside and said there had been a wreck.

"He saw the truck barreling through the intersection all the way to the end of the driveway," Trouche said.

Trouche went to look and noticed that cars belonging to two employees had been plowed aside by the truck.

Coroner's officials did not immediately identify the three in the home.

They were identified by the California Highway Patrol late Tuesday as Lorena Pachecho, Leonel Leon and Jaciel Tellez. The CHP did not have their ages.

Zapien said Leonel (Leo) Leon was 23, Lorena was 27 and Jaciel was 7. The family had moved to the U.S. from Oaxaca, Mexico, about five years ago, he said.

Leo worked as a chef and Lorena was a housewife, he said.

Zapien said he recently saw the family in good spirits preparing to celebrate Leo's 24th birthday on Friday.

"They were very friendly, very good people," he said.

Santa Barbara is about 75 miles north of Los Angeles. State Highway 154 is flat for about 1 1/2 miles before it reaches the intersection.

___

Jablon reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Sue Manning and Thomas Watkins in Los Angeles contributed to this report.



Related Links:


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Raw Video: California Truck Crash


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, vehicle into building, building collapse, auto extrication, auto accident

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

Simulation is an educational tool that can be used to develop and refine clinical skills of the student in a controlled environment before they progress to becoming practicing clinicians.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

REMSA Programs Helps Reduce Hospital Visits

Community paramedic effort goes into service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

City Official Challenges San Francisco Fire Chief

Ambulance response times among problems noted by city supervisor.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Crash

Victoria ambulance collides with civilian vehicle.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Colorado Medics Ditch Pants for Kilts

“Real men do wear kilts.”
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

CO Leak at Illinois School

Girard incident sends over 130 to hospitals.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On September 2014

Who gets thumbs up this month?
More >


Multimedia Thumb

NYC Sept. 11 Anniversary

View images from the ceremony at Ground Zero.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >