A suspected drunk driver slammed into a semi-truck head-on when he drove the wrong way onto southbound Interstate 15 in Escondido early Monday, California Highway Patrol said.
The driver in a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck crashed into the semi-truck just north of Lilac Road and south of state Route 76, CHP said.
The force of the crash tore the front axle off the semi-truck and crumpled the front of the pickup truck. CHP Sgt. Curtis Martin said the crash could have been much worse.
"This is pretty much a miracle that nobody died in this," he said.
The semi-truck driver said he saw the headlights coming at him and tried to move out of the way.
"I tried to avoid him by moving my truck to the third lane but when I did that he started going that way too so I couldn’t do anything; he just hit my truck," Guillermo Zuniga said.
The wrong-way driver was given a sobriety test at the scene and was subsequently taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence, Martin said. He sustained minor injuries.
The semi-truck driver was shaken but otherwise unhurt.
"I’m nervous, I’m shaking," Zuniga said. "When I get out of my truck, I ran over here, I was thinking he was done because it was too fast, too hard. He is lucky, and I am lucky too."
The crash ruptured the gas tank of the semi-truck, causing a minor fuel spill, Martin said.
Crews were called to clean up the fuel and scattered debris left behind by the wreck. By 4:30 a.m., lanes were reopened to traffic.
CHP was alerted to the wrong-way driver two minutes before the crash occurred, Martin said. Officers attempted to stop the crash by slowing traffic flow.
Martin said often drunk drivers tend to gravitate towards the fast lane and urged late-night drivers to avoid using the fast lane to protect themselves from wrong-way drivers.
No other information was available.
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