Lanes Reopen After DUI Arrest, Death of USPS Contractor in Fiery Big-Rig Crash on SR-22 in Garden Grove

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The 22 Freeway reopened Sunday afternoon after a suspected DUI crash killed a truck driver carrying mail and packages for the U.S. Postal Service early in the morning, prompting a closure that lasted more than 12 hours, authorities said.

The collision happened around 4 a.m. on the eastbound lanes near Valley View and Golden West streets, according to California Highway Patrol.

The driver of a passenger vehicle somehow lost control, veered to the right and landed on the No. 3 lane facing the wrong way, CHP Officer Duane Graham told KTLA.

The motorist, later identified as a 26-year-old Irvine man, got out and was standing on the right shoulder of the freeway when a tractor trailer struck his car.

Packages are strewn across the northbound lanes of State Route 22 in Garden Grove as a big-rig burns following a crash on June 9, 2019. (Credit: Southern Counties News)
Packages are strewn across the northbound lanes of State Route 22 in Garden Grove as a big-rig burns following a crash on June 9, 2019. (Credit: Southern Counties News)

The semitruck then slammed into the center divider, overturned and caught fire, Graham said. The driver, a contractor for the U.S. Postal Service, died at the scene, according to CHP.

Officials and firefighters arrived to find the overturned truck fully engulfed in flames. They also saw a third vehicle heavily damaged in the HOV lane.

It took firefighters using four fire engines at least 15 minutes to extinguish the blaze, Thanh Nguyen with the Garden Grove Fire Department told KTLA.

Authorities arrested the 26-year-old motorist, who they suspect of driving under the influence of alcohol. He was the sole occupant of his vehicle, CHP said.

SR-22 was initially blocked in both directions as officials investigated the incident and crews cleaned up the fuel, mail and packages that spilled out of the truck.

Eastbound lanes reopened shortly before noon, but westbound traffic remained shut down until just after 6 p.m., according to Caltrans.

Inspectors with the Postal Service were at the site Sunday morning, agency spokeswoman Evelina Ramirez said.

KTLA’ Brian Day contributed to this report.

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