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BIG RIG BLAMED FOR FREEWAY CRASH NO ONE INJURED IN COLLISION OF 2 AUTOS, TRUCK.

Byline: Holly Edwards Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA - A big-rig driver caused a three-vehicle crash and a 150-gallon diesel fuel spill after he made an unsafe lane change and flipped over on the southbound Antelope Valley Freeway near Spring Canyon Road, officials said Monday.

While traveling in the fast lane at about 60 mph, the big-rig driver moved into the lane to his right and collided with a 1997 Mercury Sable driven by a 43-year-old Canyon Country man, authorities said.

The impact caused the Mercury to spin into the car-pool lane and collide with an oncoming Acura driven by a 23-year-old Thousand Oaks woman, said California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Watson, who investigated the crash.

The Mercury then hit the concrete median and careened to the right, where it collided a second time with the big rig, Watson said. The impact caused the big rig to veer into a dirt embankment and flip over, officials said.

All of the vehicles were seriously damaged, but no injuries resulted from the crash, which happened about 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Watson said.

``The big-rig driver never knew he hit anybody,'' Watson said. ``The people in the Mercury were very lucky.''

The driver of the big rig, Werner Stoppel, 58, of Fernley, Nev., was cited for making an unsafe lane change, the officer said.

A Caltrans crew worked through the night to clean up about 150 gallons of diesel fuel that spilled when the big rig's fuel tank was ripped open, said Ivy Estrada, Caltrans spokeswoman.

``They used sand bags to absorb the fuel on the road and put the contaminated soil in drums to be hauled away,'' Estrada said of the 15-hour cleanup effort.

It took two tractor trailer tow trucks nearly eight hours to remove the mangled big rig and its load of electrical conduit piping, Watson said.

It was raining at the time of the collision, but weather was not believed to be a contributing factor in the crash, he added.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 27, 2001
Words:330
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