A truck driver recounted the moment powerful winds picked up his big rig, dragging it some 1,000 feet before it landed on its side on the 118 Freeway in Chatsworth Tuesday morning.
Miguel Bertoglio, who was hauling bubble wrap, escaped without serious injury after the crash occurred about 7:50 a.m. in the freeway's eastbound lanes.
Bertoglio was attempting to exit at De Soto Avenue amid blustering Santa Ana winds that triggered advisories across much of the region. Gusts in the northern San Fernando Valley reached 45 mph Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
Bertoglio said he was only driving about 30 mph when the winds grabbed hold of his rig.
"I was going slow, because you feel the wind, and we always have to drive carefully," he told KTLA. "I just felt the wind; it just pulled me."
The truck was dragged several hundred feet across the roadway before it overturned, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Jesus Maya.
"You can see the skid marks," Maya said. "You can see that he started getting picked up about 1,000 feet back to where he landed."
Bertoglio said he was helpless to control the massive vehicle.
"I just grabbed myself on the steering wheel," he said. "I actually seen myself flying through the air."
Maya noted it had to be "some pretty strong wind to pick a big rig up and flip it around in the opposite direction."
Eastbound traffic was reduced to one lane for several hours as three heavy-duty tow trucks worked to get the truck back on its wheels. The freeway was fully reopened around 11 a.m.
🚨118 FWY UPDATE🚨 All lanes open on eastbound 118 Fwy at De Soto Ave. Big rig was successfully uprighted and moved off the freeway. 👍 pic.twitter.com/8bEZNY86BY
— CHP - West Valley (@CHPWestValley) December 17, 2019
Bertoglio's wasn't the only tractor-trailer to fall victim to the fierce gusts, which NWS said could reach 70 mph in some areas.
On the 15 Freeway in Fontana, more than a dozen truck drivers had to pull to the side of the road after the winds toppled a truck onto its side Tuesday morning. Another similar crash occurred Monday night on the 210 Freeway along the Rancho Cucamonga–Fontana border.
"Don’t take a chance driving next to a high profile vehicle in windy conditions," CHP advised motorists in a Facebook post.