Victim identified as Taft man. Roadway finally reopened after being closed for five hours
One person was killed in a fiery collision involving a pickup and two big rigs on Highway 166 at Cerro Noroeste Road Monday morning.
The driver of the pickup was pronounced dead at the scene, but the two big rig drivers escaped injury. he was identified this afternoon by the Kern County sheriff-Coroner as Edward LeRoy Jones, 68, of Taft. A dog in Jones' pickup was also killed, the coroner said.
The crash closed the highwayfor nearly five hours. It was finally reopened at 2:19 p.m.
Kern County firefighters arriving on scene of the 9:22 a.m. crash found the wreckage on fire with a propane tank involved, causing brief fears of a major explosion and fire.
“The passenger vehicle was fully engulfed, the first semi cab was engulfed, tires on the propane tanker were on fire and flames were impinging on the propane tank,” Kern County Battalion Chief David Witt said. “We made an aggressive attack and were able to push the fire back off the propane tank.”
The truck drivers had exited their vehicles already without injury but no one could help the driver of the pickup.
“There was nothing we could do,” Witt said. “The vehicle was fully involved.”
California Highway Patrol Sgt. J. R. Brock said the crash started when the pickup pulled in front of one of the trucks.
The pickup was in a large dirt turnout on the east side of Highway 166 at Cerro Noroeste when it tried to enter westbound Highway 166, Brock said.
It pulled right into the path of a tractor pulling a trailer with gypsum in it, he said.
“He couldn't stop,” Brock said of the tractor driver. “No way could he stop in time.”
That truck struck the pickup broadside and both vehicles continued traveling northbound into the southbound lanes.
The driver of the propane truck slammed on his brakes but couldn't avoid colliding with the pickup and tractor of the other truck.
The crushed pickup burst into flames.
The fatality was the only victim. The other drivers walked away from their burning rigs without a scratch.
“I think it's a miracle they didn't get any injuries,” CHP Sgt. D.K. Peters said.
The highway was closed between Maricopa and the Highway 166-33 junction near Cuyama while the wreckage was cleared.