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Fiery, 36-Vehicle Pileup Is Deadly

Fri., Dec. 12, 1997, midnight

At least five people were killed and 26 injured Thursday in a fiery crash of big trucks and passenger cars on a fog-shrouded stretch of Interstate 5, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Other motorists, who narrowly avoided the grinding collision and resulting fuel tank explosions during the busy morning commute north to Sacramento, rushed to aid the injured.

The victims included an unidentified 5-year-old child, whose anguished mother ran about the crash site screaming for help. Truck drivers ran to her mangled car but found it enveloped in flames, and they were unable to save the youngster.

The crash occurred at sunrise and involved 36 vehicles, including an empty tanker truck and eight other big rigs. It left a war-zone scene of mayhem scattered for a quarter-mile about 12 miles south of the state capital.

“Everybody did everything they could to stop,” said a shaken witness. One CHP officer described visibility as “zero.”

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