Semi “Loses Brakes” Then Plows Through 20 Vehicles In Fiery Santa Cruz Crash

Santa Cruz, California – Nine people were hurt, two of them critically, in a 20-vehicle pile up on Highway 1 in Santa Cruz Tuesday morning, according to the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

Authorities say a semi exited Highway 17 onto Highway 1 traveling northbound at approximately 9:52 a.m. when the truck lost its brakes. The fully-loaded big rig, which was hauling clay, could not avoid the 4-wheelers at a traffic light and began colliding with them one after another, hitting 20 in all.

“Preliminary investigation reveals the brakes went out. Witnesses observed the tires smoking on the vehicle.” said CHP Officer Grant Boles. “There were numerous injuries, with two or three critical taken to area hospitals.”


Boles said it was a frightening and fiery scene. “He was essentially out of control, so he’s going 40 to 50 miles an hour just clipping cars,” said Boles. “He just came through and plowed through all the cars … Most of the vehicles were struck from behind and pushed out of the way.”

The semi’s path of destruction was more than 1,000 feet. Boles says this is not the first time big rig drivers have had difficulty navigating this stretch of road and indicated driver error was is to blame for this crash. “We’ve seen this with big rigs coming down Highway 17 either overloaded or not using their brakes properly, which would result in a brake failure,” said Boles.

The crash resulted in the closure of all northbound lanes and they did not reopen until 3 p.m. causing serious traffic delays in the area. Fortunately, each of the injured people are expected to survive.

The investigation is ongoing and the truck driver has not yet been cited.


Video and images courtesy of CBS KPIX 5


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