A semi-truck driver in San Rafael, California was arrested on suspicion of DUI after he crashed his vehicle, blocking three lanes of traffic, and was then found to be five times over the legal limit for alcohol. Two other semi-truck crashes—one that left a motorcyclist dead and another that engulfed a big rig in flames—occurred in California in the days surrounding the San Rafael truck crash. Each of the three accidents highlights the dangers of sharing the road with semi-trucks and the importance of adequate safety measures to protect motorists from truck accidents.
San Rafael Truck Crash Closes Three Lanes of Highway 101
March 27, 2017
The San Rafael truck crash took place at about 8:00 a.m. on Monday, March 27, 2017. Richard Earl Long, approximately 55-years-old, was driving his semi-truck at approximately 55 mph northbound on Highway 101 north of the Central San Rafael exit when he lost control of the vehicle. Long veered onto the shoulder before hitting a concrete bridge rail.
“The force of this impact caused the truck to overturn onto its passenger side and slide across the freeway and come to a stop facing south and blocking the three left lanes.” Marin California Highway Patrol (CHP) said in a news release. A crane was permanently attached to the semi-truck that Long was driving, and the flatbed was full of steel “I” beams, which remained fastened to the vehicle throughout the accident.
With the big rig sprawling across the number one, number two and number three lanes, an already busy Monday morning commute slowed to a crawl. Northbound traffic backed up to Lucky Drive and the southbound commute stretched into the late morning as vehicles slowed to observe the accident scene. By 11:30 a.m., according to police, all blocked lanes had been reopened.
Long’s semi-truck was the only vehicle involved in the San Rafael truck crash, but a passenger was inside the truck with him. Both Long and the passenger were taken to nearby Marin General Hospital by San Rafael Fire for the treatment of minor injuries.
It was at the hospital, as officers took Long’s statement, that they observed “objective symptoms of alcohol intoxication” according to Marin CHP. Upon testing Long, the officers discovered that he was far over the legal limit.
“The driver’s blood alcohol content was more than 5 times the legal limit for commercial vehicles (.04%) and more than 2 ½ times the legal limit if he had been driving a passenger car (.08%),” the Marin CHP statement detailed.
Officers arrested Long at Marin General Hospital at 8:30 a.m. on suspicion of felony DUI causing injury to a passenger. After he was treated for his injuries, Long was then taken to Marin County Jail and booked under $50,000 bail.
The San Rafael truck crash is not the first semi-truck accident in California in recent years involving a truck driver who faced DUI charges. An April 13, 2016 truck crash took the life of another motorist on the road when a Peterbilt tractor-trailer, operated by a man later charged with a DUI, collided with a Honda passenger vehicle.
Northbound I-15 Shut Down After Fiery Apple Valley Big Rig Crash
March 30, 2017
Days after the San Rafael truck crash, a dramatic and fiery crash in Apple Valley, California, left all northbound lanes of I-15 in the area shut down for six hours while emergency responders worked to extinguish the flames and clear the wreckage.
The Apple Valley truck crash occurred just before 4:00 a.m. on the morning of Thursday, March 30, 2017, south of Dale Evans parkway. Forty-five-year-old Tony Oliver, of Las Vegas, was driving a 2017 Freightliner with a box trailer behind. In front of him, 64-year-old Michael Drake, of Glendora, was driving the same direction in a 2000 Chevy 3500 towing a fifth wheel.
According to witnesses, Drake was traveling at about 45 mph, while Oliver was moving at a speed of approximately 75 mph. Both vehicles were in the number three northbound lane.
With Oliver unable to slow his semi-truck in time to avoid hitting the Chevy in front of it, which had slowed due to traffic, the big rig slammed into the back of the fifth wheel before veering left and hitting the center median. It was then that the cab of the semi-truck became engulfed in flames. The Chevy veered to the other side of the highway and came to a stop on the right shoulder before also catching fire.
Michael Keyser was also driving on I-15 and witnessed the crash.
“His cab was smashed,” Keyser said in an interview with the San Bernadino County Sun. “It’s a miracle he got out.”
CHP officials have said there were no injuries in the fiery truck accident, but the subsequent closure of the northbound lanes caused a five-mile traffic backup and officials diverted traffic off the freeway to Dale Evans Parkway. Responders from Apple Valley Fire Protection District eventually extinguished both vehicles, but the Freightliner was completely burned in the blaze.
By 7:50 a.m., one northbound lane was reopened, and a little before 10:00 a.m.—six hours after the Apple Valley truck accident took place—Caltrans announced that all northbound lanes were open.
An investigation into the cause of the truck crash is ongoing, although officials do not believe drugs or alcohol were factors.
Semi-Truck Driver Leaves Scene After Fatal Motorcycle Incident
March 26, 2017
A forty-nine-year-old Colton man was killed after the motorcycle he was riding hit the back of a semi-truck, but the identity of the semi-truck driver remains a mystery since the driver left the scene.
The truck accident occurred on Sunday, March 26, 2017. Jesse Hibbler was riding a 2005 Suzuki motorcycle on Highway 259 and was heading south toward Base Line Street when, according to CHP, he lost control of the motorcycle and slammed into the big rig in front of him. In a news release, CHP officials said that the impact caused Hibbler to be ejected from the motorcycle.
While Hibbler was taken to St. Bernardine’s Medical Center in San Bernardino, California, he was later pronounced dead.
The semi-truck driver did not stop at the accident scene, and an investigation into the identity of the truck driver is ongoing. Individuals with any information on the truck accident are asked to contact Officer McAllister at the San Bernardino CHP Area office by calling 909-383-4247.