A motorcyclist was killed on the 5 Freeway in Santa Ana when he was struck Thursday morning by a wrong-way driver, who also died in the crash.
The incident occurred just before 4 a.m. when a Jaguar S-TYPE that was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes collided with a motorcyclist headed northbound in the carpool lane just south of the 22 Freeway, California Highway Patrol Officer Florentino Olivera said.
Video from the scene showed a motorcycle down on the freeway as the Jaguar, which caught fire after the crash, burned nearby.
The motorcycle rider and the driver of the car were both pronounced dead at the scene, Olivera said. “The carpool lane is divided from the general lanes. So that motorcycle had nowhere to go when he saw that vehicle coming toward him,” he said.
Authorities later identified the motorcyclist as 36-year-old Hugo Juarez.
A GoFundMe page set up for the family described Juarez as a loving husband and father.
Wrong-way drivers are a fairly common occurrence in Southern California, according to Olivera, who said he tells his family and friends to never use the carpool or fast lanes if they don't have to, especially after midnight.
"There’s not much traffic, so there’s no need to be in the carpool lane," he said. "Typically, when we get calls of a wrong-way driver, they’re traveling in the carpool lane.”
The motorcyclist was wearing a helmet at the time, but CHP said the impact was so strong it wouldn't have mattered either way. Officials were working to inform the man's family of his death.
The Jaguar driver's body was so badly burnt it could not immediately be identified, but authorities said he was a man.
A SigAlert was issued about 4:15 a.m. for the closure of all northbound lanes of the 5 Freeway.
The two right lanes were reopened shortly after 6 a.m., Olivera said.
The rest of the freeway, except for the carpool lane, had reopened by 8 a.m.