IRVINE – A Santa Ana man died early Thursday morning after a series of crashes that started with a suspected drunk driver swerving over lanes on the transition from the southbound I-5 to the 133 toll road, officials said.
Juan Ticas, 39, of Santa Ana, was killed not in the initial crash, but after he was hit by a third vehicle while standing near his car, authorities said.
California Highway Patrol officials were alerted to the crash scene at 5:13 a.m. after a man driving in a black Dodge Charger swerved across several lanes while attempting to transition from the southbound I-5 to the 133 toll road, CHP Officer Florentino Olivera said.
“The driver in the Charger said he got hit by a big-rig which caused him to swerve,” Olivera said.
The driver of the Dodge Charger was interviewed and arrested on suspicion of DUI. His name was not released, but authorities said this was his second DUI arrest.
As the man swerved, he drove in front of Ticas, who was driving a white GMC Yukon, causing a crash that sent the Dodge Charger into the guard rail and then stopping horizontally into lanes of traffic.
Officials said Ticas stopped about 100 feet south of the Dodge Charger before he got out of his SUV and walked over to talk to the other man.
After a brief discussion, Ticas began calling someone on his phone and he stopped near his SUV on the highway, standing behind the vehicle, Olivera said.
At that time, a man driving a Nissan 240SX drove onto the transition and swerved when he saw the Dodge Charger blocking lanes.
“The driver in the black Nissan over-corrected to avoid hitting the Charger,” Olivera said.
When the Nissan driver swerved, he slammed into Ticas, who was standing in the road, launching him over the guardrail, where he fell 50 feet and died.
Finally, a man driving a white Toyota Camry drove onto the transition and crashed when he failed to avoid the Dodge in the roadway. The Camry driver was hospitalized at Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana and expected to survive his injuries, Olivera said.
CHP officials closed the southbound I-5 transition to the 133 toll road during the investigation and were able to reopen lanes around 8:50 a.m.
Another driver, Mickey, who did not want to provide his last name when interviewed, said he stopped when he saw the crash scene Thursday morning.
“I asked if everyone was fine; one of the guys told me he didn’t know what happened,” Mickey said. “When I looked down the hill, there was a guy laying at the bottom of the hill, and another driver was with him.”
When Mickey went down the hill to help, he said Ticas was face down, his leg mangled. Mickey felt a pulse, so he went back up the hill to talk to another driver.
“He wouldn’t talk to me, he was in shock,” he said.
So Mickey said he went back down the embankment to help the injured Ticas, but his pulse was gone.
“After that, we started doing CPR,” Mickey said. “But, when I turned him over, his face was smashed. I started CPR for about 5 minutes, I couldn’t get him back.”
Mickey said he takes that road every day to go to work as a radiology technician at a nearby hospital, but it’s never looked the way it did Thursday.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.
News Source: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/driver-694632-charger-transition.html