Officials from the Los Angeles County coroner’s office have identified Jorge Luis Garcia Lara as the victim in a horrific April 17 traffic collision in Pacoima involving a big rig truck and four other vehicles.
Garcia Lara, 32, of Sylmar was driving a silver Chevy Silverado when his vehicle was broadsided by an out of control big rig truck that was involved in multiple accidents. His pickup truck was flipped onto its left side, and wound up pinned between two other vehicles. Firefighters had to use the jaws of life to help extricate Garcia and a passenger out of the truck. Garcia Lara later died from his injuries at a hospital.
Several flower arrangements and candles were visible Monday, April 20, placed next to a light pole near the accident along Paxton Street, just north of Foothill Boulevard. A front light, parts of a fender and other car parts could also be seen piled up next to a bent chain link fence.
California Highway Patrol investigators said the chain of events that led to the accidents began on the 210 Freeway at approximately 6:30 a.m. on April 17.
According to the CHP officer Luis Paredes, a big rig was heading east on the freeway when the driver had a “coughing attack” that made him lose control of the vehicle.
After missing the Paxton off ramp, the big rig veered off the freeway barreling down an embankment, and hit four vehicles waiting for a light to turn along Paxton Street.
The big rig slammed into a Nissan Maxima and a white Ford Explorer, knocking both vehicles into the intersection of the freeway ramp and Paxton Street. The truck continued on, crossing the street and broadsided the Chevy Silverado pickup heading south on Paxton, flipping it onto its left side. The pickup truck ended up sandwiched between the big rig and a dump truck that was parked nearby. The dump truck had lost control and crashed.
The crash left a pile of debris and mangled cars strewn on both sides of the intersection that was closed for a good part of that day, along with access and exit ramps to the 210 freeway.
Seven people were injured in the accident. Four were transported to the hospital, some of them in critical condition.
“We heard loud, booming noises and when we came out four cars were all splattered around,” said witness Rene Shahmoradian. “There was four of us who tried to pull the people out of the car and we couldn’t get them out, they were stuck.”
The driver of the big rig truck who suffered the coughing attack was not hurt.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) investigators were still investigating the cause of the accident. They had not rule out distracted driving or alcohol as factors in the crash. At press time, investigators had no updates on the investigation.