A driver died and a second man was critically injured after a vehicle crashed into a construction project on an East L.A. freeway Saturday, causing major structural damage and temporary road closures.
A red 2007 Dodge Magnum crashed for unknown reasons about 2:02 a.m. while driving northbound on the 5 Freeway approaching the 710 Freeway transition, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Jose Nunez said.
The driver died at the scene. He was later identified as 34-year-old Jose Antonio Garcia, of Compton, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
The critically injured passenger, a 23-year-old Los Angeles man, was extricated from the vehicle and taken to LAC+USC Medical Center, L.A. County Fire Department Capt. Brian Jordan said. His name was not released.
“What they ran into was a support structure for a freeway, so we had a lot of metal and steel girders that are thousands of pounds each and we had metal and wood beams come down, that were actually on top of the car,” Jordan said. “While they were extricating this patient, they also had to deal with the potential of collapse.”
Specialized equipment was used to remove beams weighing 10,000 to 20,000 pounds, Jordan said.
The crash compromised the structure being built, causing extensive closures on both freeways, Nunez said.
Northbound 710 Freeway lanes were reopened shortly after 4 p.m.
All northbound lanes on the 5 Freeway, which had been shut down Saturday morning, were open as of 7:48 p.m. and a SigAlert was cancelled, the CHP said.
Traffic began moving on the 5 earlier than predicted; Caltrans officials had earlier said the closure would last until about 9:30 p.m.
“We’re being cautiously optimistic that we can get this open, hopefully within several hours,” said Patrick Chandler of the California Department of Transportation.
Motorists were asked to use side streets or the 91, 605 or 10 Freeways as alternative routes, Chandler said.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
KTLA’s Erin Myers, Chris Wolfe and John A. Moreno contributed to this report.