Intoxicated driving is suspected after a wrong-way crash on the 5 Freeway in Sylmar left three people dead and two others injured early Friday, authorities said.
Two men were pronounced dead at the scene of the 3:25 a.m. crash in the northbound lanes of the 5 Freeway transition road to the northbound 14 Freeway, the California Highway Patrol said in a written statement. They were the driver and a passenger in the wrong-way car, described as a 1998 Honda Accord.
The Honda was headed south on the northbound side of the freeway when it slammed into a 2017 Ford Mustang, officials said.
An 18-year-old Palmdale woman who was was riding as a passenger in the Mustang was hospitalized with major injuries and was pronounced dead a short time later, according to the CHP.
The driver of the Mustang also suffered major injuries, officials said.
Following the initial impact, the Mustang was pushed into a 2001 Chevrolet Malibu, causing minor injuries to that driver.
The identities of those killed in the crash were not released Friday pending positive identification and notification of family by coroner's officials.
The driver of the wrong-way car was described by the CHP only as male. His passenger was a 49-year-old Long Beach man.
Sgt. Chris Cabral of the CHP Newhal-area office told KTLA that speed and alcohol were believed to be factors in the deadly crash.
After the collision, northbound lanes of the 5 Freeway connecting with the northbound 14 Freeway were closed, creating a traffic backup. All lanes were reopened by 8 a.m.
The wrong-way driver appeared to have been traveling on the fast lane, which is where authorities usually encounter wrong-way drivers, according to Cabral.
The sergeant offered drivers advice on avoiding these types of collisions.
“You want to maintain a high visual horizon whenever driving, and then also look way beyond your hood," Cabral said, adding that it's best to stay out of the fast lane when possible.