The California Highway Patrol says there was a chain-reaction crash involving at least six big rigs and dozens of vehicles. By 6 p.m., the backup reached Chrystal Springs, about 12 miles away from the scene of the crash.
CHP Sgt. Curtis Fouyer says one big rig rolled over two or three vehicles about 1:30 p.m. Friday near Yuba Gap, 70 miles east of Sacramento. A man who appeared to be in his 60s died. KXTV reporter Nick Monacaellie said the man was outside his vehicle, presumably checking on the damage, when another car lost control and hit him. That was the only fatality.
The most significant threat was a hydrogen tanker truck involved in the accident. Thankfully, it was not damaged and did not rupture. Hazmat checked out the vehicle and said it was fine.
The accident started when a truck driver lost control and his vehicle overturned. The truck jackknifed on the highway, closing both lanes. Then, another semi, not far behind the first, slammed into the overturned truck and turned over as well. Then, other cars collided since drivers were unable to see in the near-blizzard conditions.
Other motorists called police to report they were trapped, but uninjured. The crash occurred just after officials required tire chains on the interstate.
Spinouts also forced the closure of eastbound I-80, the main corridor between Northern California and Nevada. Officials hope to reopen the interstate on Friday night.
KXTV reporter Nick Monacaellie and the Associated Press contributed to this report.