The eastbound 210 Freeway was closed for hours along the Los Angeles and San Bernardino county borders on Monday after a wrong-way driver caused a series of collisions that left one man dead and several others injured in Claremont on Monday, authorities said.
The incident began at 3:25 p.m., when a woman stole a silver pickup truck in the 700 block of West Highland Avenue in San Bernardino, according to Eileen Hards of the San Bernardino Police Department.
A 4-year-old boy was in the back seat of the car at the time it was stolen, and the suspect dropped the young child off nearby after realizing he was in the vehicle, authorities said. Hards initially gave the age of the boy as 2.
The father and another passerby tried to follow the woman, but they lost track of her, CHP Sgt. Saul Gomez told the Los Angeles Times. The boy was found unharmed on a sidewalk about a mile away from where the vehicle was stolen.
The driver then entered the 210 from an exit ramp and traveled down the freeway in the wrong directions.
Around 3:40 p.m., CHP began receiving numerous reports of a driver heading westbound in eastbound lanes, according to the agency’s incident log.
One person told authorities the driver was “doing donuts” and swerving at other cars in an apparent attempt to hit them, the log stated. Another person indicated the driver appeared to “purposely hit another vehicle.”
Witnesses estimated the driver hit speeds of upwards of 100 mph, according to the log.
Just after 3:55 p.m., the truck was involved in a seven-vehicle wreck near Mills Boulevard, CHP said.
One of the vehicles was hit head-on by the suspect’s truck, killing the innocent driver, according to Hards.
The L.A. Times identified the victim as a Fontana man in his 60s. His name has not yet been released.
Three people were hurt in the incident, and their conditions ranged from minor to moderate. The suspect also injured and last reported to be in serious condition, according to the newspaper.
CHP identified the driver as Nicole Thibault, a 28-year-old woman from Santa Clarita. Officials did not provide additional information about the woman, who is in custody, they said.
Sky5 video over the scene showed several cars on the side of the road at various points on the freeway, with wreckage and debris from the crashes strewn about the roadway over a span of at least several hundred feet.
“I’ve been at many scenes … this is one of the worst ones in my opinion, based on the vehicle intrusion,” CHP Sgt. Saul Gomez said. “Some of the vehicles are literally just torn apart, wheels fell off, parties trapped inside the vehicles. It was pretty gruesome.”
All lanes of the eastbound 210 were initially expected to be shut down until around midnight, according to CHP. During the evening commute, traffic was jammed in the immediate area and appeared to be backed up for miles, aerial footage showed.
The freeway was finally reopened about 3:30 a.m., CHP Officer Kimball said.
KTLA’s Matt Phillips contributed to this story.