Both sides of the 605 Freeway were closed through Cerritos Saturday morning after a six-vehicle crash left two dead and three others injured, authorities said.
The incident occurred shortly after 1 a.m. on the southbound 605 Freeway at the 91 Freeway interchange, California Highway Patrol Officer Alex Rubio said. The freeway was immediately shut down in both directions and remained closed more than 8 hours before reopening around 9:30 a.m.
Although ultimately six cars were involved, investigators said two or three may have originally collided and caused others to crash. The cause of the pile-up was still under investigation, but officers said speed and alcohol may have played a role.
An unidentified man who had been driving a 1999 Saturn died at the scene, while a 24-year-old Huntington Beach resident, Gabriela Hernandez, died at the hospital from major blunt force trauma, according to a CHP release.
The driver of the 2007 Honda Hernandez was a passenger in, 32-year-old Ulises Rodriguez, was injured with a laceration to his legs, officials said. Another passenger in the same car, Yenit Esquivel Rivera, 30, had her nasal bone fractured.
Amy Johnson, a 36-year-old Lakewood resident, suffered a superior sternal fracture after her 2016 Honda became involved in the incident, officers said.
Both of those who died may have survived the initial crash but were hit after getting out of their vehicles, according to CHP Sgt. Raquel Stage.
"If you're ever in a collision, it's not safe to walk out of your vehicle," she said. "Try to remain in your vehicle if possible, drive to the right shoulder if possible — staying in lanes, especially at night, is very dangerous."
The impact was so strong one man's body was found on the northbound side of the freeway, officers said.
One vehicle appeared to catch fire in video captured from the scene, while others were seen rolled over on their sides.
Correction: A previous version of this article said only two people were injured.