Crime - Sacto 911

Multiple crashes on westbound I-80 leave two dead, three hospitalized and a car ablaze

Multiple car crashes Friday night on westbound Interstate 80 resulted in the death of two people and the hospitalization of three others. Three lanes on the freeway were closed for several hours as police cleared the scene, the California Highway Patrol said in a news release.

The incident started about 8:52 p.m. when a woman in a 2010 Hyundai Sonata stalled for an unknown reason on westbound I-80 in the No. 4 lane west of Madison Avenue. The car’s taillights were off, the news release said. Two passengers, both men, were also inside the car.

Nearby, a man was approaching the Hyundai in a black 2006 Ford tow truck that was hauling a black 2000 Honda Accord. A silver 2004 Toyota Sienna driven by a man was in the far left lane, just behind the Ford truck.

The tow truck hit the Hyundai, the CHP said. The crash pushed the Hyundai forward and to the left, with both cars veering into the No. 1 lane, where driver of the Toyota was passing. The Toyota hit the left side of the Ford and all three cars eventually came to a stop on the far left side lane of the freeway, the CHP said.

The woman in the Hyundai and a man sitting in the passenger seat died at the scene. The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office identified the woman as Bennie Ruth Harriel, 62, of Sacramento. The name of the deceased passenger has not been released, pending notification of his family.

The second passenger was taken to the hospital with major injuries. The driver of the Toyota Sienna was also sent to the hospital with minor injuries, the CHP said.

It was while officers were working on clearing the initial car crash that a 2006 Dodge Caravan struck a 2012 Dodge Ram stopped in the far left lane. The driver of that car had activated his hazard lights to protect officers from oncoming traffic. Seconds later, a Chevrolet Camaro also hit the Dodge Ram, causing it to burst into flames.

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department firefighters were called and they doused the flames quickly. The woman driving in the Dodge Caravan was sent to the hospital with major injuries.

The left three lanes of the freeway were closed until 12:33 a.m. The CHP did not know if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the collisions.

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets