Crash and Fire: Two Car Accidents in Santa Clarita Result In Terrible Chain Of Events

In the United States, drunk driving accidents cost over $37 Billion annually with 10,000 lives lost in 2012 alone. The scale of this number may not be surprising considering a person is injured in a drunk driving accident every two minutes. But on June 21, just before 6 AM, it wasn’t drunk driving that caused a chain reaction car crash in Santa Clarita, but road rage.

Wednesday morning, past the Newhall exit on the southbound 14 Freeway, a motorcyclist set off a chain reaction car crash with a single kick of his leg to a sedan, which swerved and caused a truck in another lane to overturn. The accident was caught on camera by a driver behind the sedan.

The video depicts the motorcyclist driving alongside a Nissan sedan before lifting his leg and kicking at the side of the vehicle. The sedan swerves to the right, then wildly to the left, nearly driving into the motorcyclist before barreling into the median.

In the video, flames fly from the sedan as it makes impact and the vehicle ricochets once more to the right and into the other lane where it hits a Cadillac Escalade truck. The truck, hit from the side and back end by the uncontrolled sedan, is forced sideways and overturns onto its hood. The motorcyclist left the scene of the accident.

The average age of those who retire is 63, but at age 75, Carlos Benavidez, the driver of the white truck, was simply on his way to work when his vehicle was slammed by the sedan.

“When I felt the impact,” said Benavidez to CBS reporters, “and my truck spun out beside me, and I started to roll. I saw nothing but asphalt and sky. And then, coming to rest, and I looked around to see, and I was still breathing.” As for the driver of the Nissan sedan, the 19-year-old man had appeared shaken according to Benavidez when he came to offer him help and water. Fortunately, Benavidez suffered no major injuries despite being hurt in the accident.

The driver behind the sedan who shot the video, Chris Traber, told CBS that before he began filming, the motorcyclist had shown previous signs of alleged road rage. The biker had been passing between lanes, Traber said, when the Nissan sedan had attempted to get out of the carpool lane and bumped the motorcyclist. Traber also said the two drivers began to yell at one another before the biker kicked out at the sedan door, setting off the filmed chain reaction crash.

“I’m sure the guy on the motorcycle was scared and totally startled,” Traber said to CBS, “because he almost went down and I’m sure his adrenaline kicked in.”

The California Highway Patrol is still looking for the motorcyclist and the incident has been reported as a hit-and-run. However, the chain reaction car crash isn’t the only crash in Santa Clarita the California Highway Patrol is now concerned about.

On the Sunday following the chain reaction crash, another car accident occurred along a Los Angeles freeway. The accident, involving a tree, unfortunately occurred on one of the warmest days of the year for California, resulting in a brush fire that fire officials have been working to subdue for three days.

The most commonly provided benefit to American employees is paid leave with 77% of employees available for paid holidays and vacation time. Mandatory evacuations may cause those employees to use that time off as the fire has spread 750 acres since its initial blaze along southbound Route 14 between the Freeway and Placerita Canyon Road near Santa Clarita, just 30 miles shy of downtown Los Angeles.

According to NBC Southern California, “The state is coming off one of its wettest winters in years, which left hillsides covered in grass and other vegetation. That grass will dry out this summer and turn into tinder, providing fuel for rapidly spreading fires often pushed by strong winds.”

Due to California’s five-year drought and bark beetle infestation, CAL FIRE officials estimate 102 million trees have since died in California and may fuel the threat of wildfire. “The agency has been urging residents to take prevention steps now,” said NBC, “such as maintaining 100 feet of defensible space around homes and other structures.”

As of Wednesday, the fire has since spread to 5,800 acres between Beaumont and San Jacinto and has been 20% contained by fire officials. Officials are continuing to deploy hundreds of emergency workers to contain the fire.

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