Related topics

Woman Dies in 38-Vehicle Pileup

December 19, 1998

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ One woman died and 10 people were injured Friday in a fiery 38-vehicle pileup that included at least eight tractor-trailers.

The morning rush hour accident happened on a foggy Interstate 5 about 10 miles north of downtown Sacramento.

The woman who was killed apparently was struck by another vehicle when she got out of her car, said Capt. Ed Prieto of the California Highway Patrol.

Police said 10 people were hospitalized, three with serious injuries.

Investigators said they were checking into the possibility that a northbound driver suffered a heart attack and crossed the median into the southbound lanes, causing the pileup.

Dense fog reduced visibility to 30 feet or less at the time of the crash. Such chain-reaction pileups are common during the winter months, when heavy fog descends on California’s Central Valley.

Numerous motorists narrowly escaped becoming part of the pileup.

``It happened so fast you just looked for a place to go. We all swerved into the median,″ Diane Scholey said.

Smashed cars, motor homes, light trucks, big-rigs and even snowmobiles were scattered over the area. A sport-utility vehicle sat sandwiched between two tractor-trailers, both of their cabs burned. Three snowmobiles thrown from another vehicle lay shattered on the pavement.

All lanes were shut down for hours on Interstate 5, the state’s main north-south highway. Traffic was diverted to other freeways as officials cleaned up the crash in the southbound lanes.

Update hourly