Traffic Alert

2 Navy sailors among 3 dead in crash on I-5 near Camp Pendleton

All lanes were finally reopened about 12 hours after the crash

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Three motorcyclists, including two U.S. Navy Sailors, were killed in a crash on southbound I-5 near Camp Pendleton early Thursday that was causing traffic delays hours later.

The crash was reported around 3 a.m. just south of Las Pulgas Road. A jeep swerved and hit the guardrail and became disabled in the southbound lanes. Then a Mercedes van hit the Jeep and overturned, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Hunter Gerber. This caused a chain reaction crash where then four motorcyclists crashed into the van.

Three of the four motorcyclists died at the scene, Gerber said. A spokesperson for the U.S. Navy confirmed the two of the riders were Sailors.

The driver of the van was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. One of the motorcyclists was transported to the hospital with major injuries. Two people in the Jeep had major life-threatening injuries and two people in the Mercedes van were transported with moderate injuries.

An investigation into the collision was ongoing. It was not yet clear if alcohol or mechanical failure were involved in the crash.

All lanes of southbound I-5 were closed for a couple of hours in the early morning and through morning rush hour traffic. Drivers were being diverted off at Las Pulgas Road.

"We came to a stop, sStuck in that area where you can’t go anywhere and you’re trapped and it ended up being a 5-hour commute, plus," said commuter Chris Herring. "There was people getting out of their car, parking their car. There were some people that were even going the opposite way on the shoulder."

By 11 a.m., two right lanes at Las Pulgas Road reopened but traffic delays continued for hours. At 2 p.m., congestion remained backed up through San Clemente. Lanes were finally reopened around 3:15 p.m.

Lanes are closed until further notice and traffic is being diverted off at Las Pulgas Road. NBC 7's Marianne Kushi and Nicole Gomez share the latest. 

Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

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