A multi-car accident on Interstate 8 in the East County last weekend was caused by cement objects in the roadway, and California Highway Patrol officers say it isn’t the first time it’s happened in the same location.
The latest incident is leading the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to believe that the same person or people are responsible.
CHP got the call just past midnight Saturday morning. Eight to ten cars were pulled over on the shoulder of westbound I-8, east of Dunbar Lane, damaged from hitting one or all of three 60-pound cement parking stops or three cement retaining wall blocks left in the roadway.
Officers investigated a series of four similar incidents in January and February, and learned Monday that a similar report was taken last October. In those five incidents, it was cement retaining wall blocks that were left in the roadway.
A CHP officer told NBC 7 that the location and time of day suggest the same suspect or suspects are responsible for all of the incidents.
“We don’t think it’s accidental. We don’t think someone is just dropping something on westbound I-8, east of Dunbar Lane,” CHP Officer Travis Garro said. “We think that whoever is putting them out there is doing it maliciously and on purpose with the intent of causing damage or injury to people and their property.”
Investigators believe the suspects are either pulling over on the freeway and places the objects in the road, or chucking them over the fence on parallel-running Chocolate Summit Drive and letting them roll down the hillside onto freeway lanes.
Garro said the stretch of road isn’t very well lit and traffic is normally light late at night, which means cars are likely traveling at high speeds. In those conditions, drivers have little to no chance of being able to safely react to the obstructions and avoid them safely.
Officers’ biggest fears are a motorcyclist hitting one and being severely injured or possibly killed, or a driver overreacting and possibly hurting other drivers.
“It’s only a matter of time before someone is going to be gravely injured or killed because of this,” Garro said.
Garro said felony vandalism is would be the simplest charge for the perpetrators, and said charges would increase in severity based on the injury and damaged caused.
CHP investigators have no suspect at this time. Anyone with information is asked to call CHP at 1-800-835-5247.
Garro said CHP has added extra patrols in the area.