3 dead after wrong-way driver hits van on I-5 in LA

Crews work to clear debris from a crash that left three dead on the 5 Freeway in Commerce on March 12, 2017. (Credit: Nerissa Knight / KTLA)

LOS ANGELES – Northbound Interstate 5 was closed through Commerce, just south of downtown Los Angeles, Sunday morning due to a collision that left three people dead, officials said.

Around 5:20 a.m. a Mini Cooper was reported to have entered the freeway near Slauson Avenue driving the wrong direction before it hit a van head-on, said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Manuel Rodriguez. The Mini Cooper had been traveling in the slow lane at slow speeds, he said.

“While units were trying to get to the scene [of the reported wrong-way driver], we had a report of an accident,” he told KTLA. “We didn’t know at the time whether it was the same — in fact, we can’t completely confirm that it still is — but based on the description of the vehicles, most likely it is.”

All three victims — a driver and passenger in the van as well as the suspected wrong-way driver — were pronounced dead at the scene, said L.A. County Fire Department Supervisor Ed Pickett.

The driver of the van was a woman, while the passenger was a man, officials said. The driver of the Mini Cooper was a man, KTLA reported.

Preliminary investigation indicated the vehicles collided in the No. 3 lane, Rodriguez said, but after the impact they were resting in lanes one and two.

A three-mile stretch of the interstate, from just before Paramount Boulevard to after Slauson Avenue, was shut down until around 10:30 a.m. as crews cleared the scene. Traffic was being diverted to Telegraph Road.