A motor home carrying five Utah couples returning from a cruise careened into the dirt median of I-15, flew into the air and came crashing down Friday, killing five people and injuring the others.
Police said the fatalities included one person each from Sandy, Price and Hurricane. The hometowns of the other two were not available.The impact tore the passenger compartment from the vehicle's chassis. Some people remained trapped underneath the shattered motor home more than an hour after the 2:30 p.m. accident, said officer Willie Hailey of the California Highway Patrol in Barstow.
Of the survivors, Alva Clark, 58, Price, and Jay Dinkelman, 38, Wellington, sustained minor injuries and were being treated at the San Bernardino County Hospital, Hailey said.
The other three survivors, Ruth Ann Dinkelman, age unknown, Gary Atwood, 43, and Patricia Ann Atwood, 38, both of Price, were also being treated at area hospitals for varying degrees of injuries.
Hailey said one of the women was in critical condition with fractured ribs, internal injuries and possible head injuries and was undergoing surgery at the San Bernardino County Hospital Friday night.
The other two survivors were taken to the Loma Linda University Hospital.
One of the male passengers, who was not seriously injured, identified his friends aboard the motor home but said he didn't know what caused the accident because he was lying down in the back at the time, said CHP officer Paul Schroeder.
The cruise docked in Los Angeles on Friday morning, the passenger said. Details of the trip were not available.
A witness - the driver of the vehicle behind the motor home - told authorities the driver appeared to be falling asleep, Hailey said.
The northbound motor home veered onto a dirt berm between the northbound and southbound lanes of the main roadway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
"It was not an outrageous number (of people inside) for a motor home," Hailey said.
Covered bodies were scattered around the mangled wreckage as rescuers treated the injured in the desert area 120 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.
"The chassis was parted down the middle," Hailey said.
Victims were transported by two U.S. Army medical helicopters to area hospitals.
Northbound lanes of the freeway were closed and traffic was backed up for four miles over a detour. One southbound lane remained open. Shortly after the accident, a Honda that had slowed down was rear-ended by a minivan carrying an 18-year-old woman and a 15-year-old girl. They were taken to the San Bernardino hospital with broken bones, Flint said.
The cause of the motor-home accident remained under investigation.