More details have been released Monday about a crash Saturday that shut down the 15 Freeway in Temecula.
The 2007 Freightliner three-axle tractor truck towing trailers was stolen from the I-15 Rainbow Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Facility just moments before a series of crashes, according to the CHP report.
Two men reportedly took control of the big rig and piloted it on the northbound 15 Freeway, the report stated. [CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATE: CHP NOW SAYS JUST ONE MAN WAS INVOLVED.] Their bad driving proved nearly deadly. First, as the Freightliner driver merged left from the #4 lane, it collided with a 2001 Toyota Tacoma driven by 22-year-old San Jacinto resident Kyle Schlosser, who sustained moderate injuries. Schlosser’s passenger Sarah Small, 19, of Hemet was seriously injured. Both victims were transported to area hospitals, the CHP reported.
As a result of that collision, there was a chain reaction of more crashes: Schlosser’s truck rammed into a 2006 Toyota 4Runner driven by Temecula resident Anne Lennala, 56, and a 2006 Mercedes Benz driven by 39-year-old Timothy Varga, also of Temecula, was also involved, the CHP reported. Lennala sustained moderate injuries and was transported to Inland Valley Medical Center; Varga sustained minor injuries, according to the CHP report.
Rather than stop, the big rig continued northbound, but moments later collided with a 2009 Ford Taurus driven by Kristine Thrower, a 42-year-old Las Vegas resident, and a 2000 Honda Accord driven by Dio Nomany, 49, of Lompoc, the CHP reported. Thrower and her passenger, Rosanna O’Gorman, 42, also of Las Vegas, sustained moderate injuries and were transported to Inland Valley Medical Center. Nomany sustained minor injuries, according to the CHP.
The Freightliner driver finally lost control of the rig, causing it to overturn on to its side, blocking all four lanes of traffic just north of Temecula Parkway, the CHP reported.
Witnesses reported that one of the Freightliner occupants escaped from the wreckage and made a getaway in a white van. There are no descriptions of the suspect available at press time. A second man, Jerimiah Hartline, 19, of Tennessee was transported to Rancho Springs Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries and was later booked into Southwest Detention Center, the CHP reported. According to jail records, Hartline is being held on suspicion of taking a vehicle without an owner’s consent and receiving known stolen property.
According to the CHP report, the trailers hauled by the stolen Freightliner were fully loaded with strawberries that spilled onto the freeway during the crash. It took seven hours before the freeway was able to be reopened.