Drunk driver blamed for fiery freeway pileup

SAN DIEGO -– One man was hospitalized and another arrested for drunken driving after a three-car pileup that caused one car to burst into flames early Tuesday.

The crash was reported at 12:09 a.m. in the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 near Cesar Chavez Parkway in Logan Heights, said Sgt. Joseph Aboy of the California Highway Patrol. When officers arrived, they found a white sedan fully engulfed in flames and two witnesses trying to help an injured man on the side of the freeway.

Adrian Vergara and Alan Gomez told FOX 5 that they witnessed the chain-reaction crash. They were standing on a sidewalk off the freeway when they saw a black SUV crash into the white car, which had stopped on the right shoulder because of a mechanical problem. The driver of the white car was ejected into traffic lanes by the force of the collision, Vergara said.

While Vergara pulled the injured driver to the side of the freeway, Gomez checked the burning car to make sure no one else was inside. The two men remained with the injured driver until paramedics arrived and took him to UCSD Medical Center for treatment of unknown injuries.

Shortly after the initial crash, a white Toyota Prius crashed into the disabled SUV. The two people in the Prius suffered minor injuries, Aboy said. Police arrested the driver of the black SUV for DUI after giving him a field sobriety test.

The CHP closed all northbound lanes of the I-5 for about 45 minutes. The freeway reopened after the disabled cars and debris were cleared from the roadway.