Five people were hurt Friday morning in Paradise Hills when a medical transport van crashed on State Route 54, rolling over into the center divide.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Jake Sanchez said the crash initially involved three vehicles: a Honda Accord, a big rig and a medical transport van.
Sanchez said all three vehicles were traveling westbound on State Route 54 just before 10:40 a.m. when, for unknown reasons, the Honda Accord hit the van. This caused the driver of the van to lose control, sending the van plowing into a big rig.
The impact caused the van to drift across all lanes of the freeway, Sanchez said, before it rolled over and crashed into the center divide.
Officials with Heartland Fire & Rescue said five people were hurt in the accident but firefighters were able to pull all five victims from the wreckage.
The mangled van came to rest on its roof, tires up, in the grassy portion of the center divide. The van was marked with the logo of St. Paul's PACE, a health care program for the elderly. Debris from the crash was strewn about; an empty wheelchair could be seen near the scene of the crash.
Sanchez said the van, in addition to its driver, was carrying four passengers. The driver suffered minor injuries while the passengers suffered more serious injuries. They were rushed to local hospitals.
Sanchez said the van is a medical transport vehicle, equipped to transport wheelchairs. The investigation is ongoing; it is unclear, at this point, where the van was headed at the time of the accident.
The driver of the Honda Accord and the driver of the big rig were not hurt.
CHP said the crash caused traffic delays along SR-54 west of Woodman Street. As of 11 a.m., firefighters from multiple agencies remained at the scene, trying to clear the wreck. CHP said at least one lane was blocked.
Using a crane, a tow truck was able to eventually lift the van upright and pull it out of the grassy center divide.
No other details were immediately released.
NBC 7 reached out to St. Paul's PACE and the organization confirmed the van belongs to their Chula Vista facility.
Carol Hubbard, executive director at St. Paul’s PACE, told NBC 7 there were four PACE seniors inside the van at the time of the crash – two of them in wheelchairs.
Three of the seniors were taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital. As of 2 p.m., Hubbard said they were all recovering from minor injuries. The fourth victim is at UC San Diego Medical Center undergoing some medical tests. That victim’s condition is unknown, Hubbard confirmed.
She said the driver is okay, but very shaken up by the accident.
Hubbard said families of the crash victims have been notified and PACE staff members are at the hospitals with the patients.