COMMERCE - A fiery crash this morning on the Santa Ana (5) Freeway in Commerce that claimed the lives of two men and a woman was caused by motorists racing on the freeway, authorities said.
In the aftermath of the crash, one of the motorists, Whittier resident Dealio Lockhart, 35, was arrested and could face vehicular manslaughter charges, the CHP reported.
The 5 Freeway remained closed in both directions this afternoon at Washington Boulevard as officials investigated the crash and worked to remove the debris.
The collision on the southbound 5 Freeway at Garfield Avenue took place just after midnight, said CHP Officer Francisco Villalobos.
Lockhart, driving a Dodge Challenger, was racing a Dodge Charger southbound, when he saw a slower moving vehicle ahead and was attempting to get around the vehicle, at the same time that vehicle was trying to move to the right, the CHP said.
Lockhart applied his brakes, lost control of his car and struck the left side of a UPS tractor trailer, which became airborne, hitting a gray Nissan and shearing off the top of the Nissan.
The tractor trailer came to rest on top of a red Ford Explorer on the northbound side of the freeway, north of Washington Boulevard. The tractor trailer 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,'' Villalobos said. ``We just don't know yet.''
Debris from the collision struck a Chevrolet Tahoe and Chevrolet Silverado, which were traveling on the northbound side. The driver of the tractor trailer -- a man -- and two people inside the Nissan were pronounced dead at the scene.
Paramedics rushed two other people to County/USC Medical Center with major injuries, the CHP reported.
L.A. County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Miguel Ornelas told City News Service that two more people suffered minor injuries and were transported to another hospital.
Debris was spread across all the southbound lanes. The crash also created a nightmare for motorists, backing up north and southbound traffic on
the freeway for miles, according to the CHP.
A SigAlert was issued closing all northbound and southbound lanes of the freeway at Washington Boulevard at approximately 12:14 a.m. That full freeway closure was still in effect this afternoon, and was expected to last until 8 p.m.
Anyone with any information regarding the crash was asked to call the CHP's East Los Angeles office at (323) 980-4600 -CNS