The driver of a pickup truck died Saturday morning after traveling the wrong way on Interstate 5 and crashing into a big rig, Sacramento Fire Department officials said.
Southbound I-5 reopened just before 2 p.m. Saturday, more than eight hours after the accident. The crash happened on the southbound lanes of the highway between J Street and Richards Boulevard, said Deanna Shoopman, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation. Southbound drivers were rerouted at Richards Boulevard.
Sacramento firefighters were first to arrive at the scene, firefighter Daniel Underhill said. A California Highway Patrol traffic incident website showed the crash was reported to authorities at 5:25 a.m.
“When the engine arrived, it was just a ball of flames,” Underhill said.
Officials at the scene believe the truck got onto the freeway on J Street, going northbound against southbound traffic, Underhill said.
The driver of the big rig told emergency responders that he saw a pair of headlights coming toward him and that he swerved into a different lane to avoid the driver. The two vehicles collided anyway, Underhill said.
The big-rig driver was able to get out of his cab after the crash and saw flames. All lanes of traffic were closed to drivers in both directions for about 30 minutes as crews tackled the fire, Underhill said. Northbound lanes were later reopened.
The driver of the pickup was pronounced dead. Underhill said he did not know if the driver was a man or a woman. The coroner will release the driver’s identity after notifying next of kin.
The California Highway Patrol was not immediately available for comment Saturday morning.