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Chain-reaction crash kills four people, injures 26 others

December 12, 1997

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ A fiery chain-reaction crash killed at least five people, including a young girl, and injured 26 others on a foggy section of a busy highway Thursday morning.

Visibility ``was about 100 yards and all of a sudden it was two feet,″ said Gary Simpson, whose truck was near the front of the quarter-mile line of mangled and burned vehicles.

``I started slowing down and I was hit from the rear and pushed into the truck in front of me. As I got out of my rig, I could hear the crashes behind me,″ he said.

The crash on Interstate 5 _ California’s main north-south route _ involved nine big rigs and 28 passenger cars and pickup trucks. Fire from the crash burned for nearly two hours, Elk Grove Fire Chief Mark Meaker said.

The identity of the dead girl, believed to be between 3 and 5 years old, had not yet been determined. Several crushed and burned vehicles had not yet been examined and the death toll likely will increase, Meaker said.

The crash occurred in a marshy rural area between Sacramento and Stockton that regularly has patches of thick nighttime and morning fog during the winter. It and other nearby San Joaquin Valley highways have been the scene of numerous such crashes.

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