Fontana, CA Chain Reaction Crash, Nov 1980


Fontana, Calif. (UPI) - Seven people were killed and 17 others injured in a chain-reaction freeway crash in fog so thick some of the victims could be located only by following the sounds of their screams.
"It looked like a holocaust out there," said one officer.
Some of those killed Monday were burned to death in their twisted cars while at least two were run down as they tried to direct traffic in the thick fog. Some were hit as they frantically scrambled for safety as car after car smashed into the pileup.
Many of the trapped victims were found in their cars by rescuers who located them by following their screams. The injured were taken to five area hospitals, where at least two were reported in critical condition.
Identification of the dead was hampered because many of the bodies were badly burned. One California Highway Patrolman said bodies were so charred,
"they looked like sticks."
At least 23 vehicles, including 10 semi-trucks were involved in the accident on Interstate 15.
"It's hard to tell how many cars were wrecked," said Fire Capt. Dennis Felgar.
"There were so many pieces of torn metal."
Felgar said the deadly pileups began when a truck stopped in the slow lane of the freeway and was struck from the rear by a car.
"From then one," he said, "it turned into chaos."
The flames from burning wrecks lit up the foggy morning with an eerie glow.
"It was very, very eerie," said Felgar. "It stretched out for a quarter mile and there was an army of massive tow trucks pulling the tractor-trailers apart as others were cut from their cars."
OTTO NEUMANN was on his way to work about 7:30 a.m. when he saw a truck slow down in the adjacent lane.
"Then it was bang, bang, bang," he said as the truck was hit from behind. "All I wanted to do was get out of there before it got squashed together. There was nothing you could do. I guess I was one of the lucky ones."
After the initial collision, cars and trucks drove into the fog bank and slammed into each other for five or 10 minutes.
"It was chaos," said one witness.
A special California Highway Patrol unit was investigating the accident and the National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to aid the local officers.
Only four of the victims were identified: JEAN RENE PARISEAU, 46, Hesperia, Calif.; LINDA ANN SCHULZ, 37, Hesperia; EDWARD WAROWAY, 38, Apple Valley, Calif.; and MARY HELEN YOUNG, 54, Chino, Calif.

The Sentinel Carlisle Pennsylvania 1980-11-11