Originally posted at 10:33 a.m. June 7, 2014. Edited with new details.
By HANS LAETZ
City News Service
The CHP today blamed a truck driver for excessive speed at a blind curve, and causing the Santa Monica freeway tunnel crash that killed a 2-year-old boy from Las Vegas.
The child's name has not been released, pending full family notification.
A 17-year old Las Vegas boy, who was in a stricken minivan, was hospitalized in critical condition today, the CHP said. Two adults and three other children were also inside the stricken minivan and were hurt to varying degrees in the crash, at 12:35 p.m. Friday.
A CHP accident report released today said a 23-year-old truck driver from Panorama City, at the wheel of a 1998 International truck, approached the blind curve inside the McClure Tunnel at an excessive speed, approaching the rear of the 2010 Honda minivan.
The truck driver slammed on the brakes, but was unable to stop and skidded into the right lane of the two-lane tunnel at the western end of the Santa Monica (10) Freeway. The swerving truck sideswiped the right side of the minivan, which had two adults and five kids in it.
The truck then rear-ended a flatbed truck loaded with drywall, according to photos taken of the scene. The CHP said the second truck had been at a complete stop.
The 2-year-old boy and 17-year-old teen were loaded into a rescue helicopter at the Santa Monica Pier parking lot. The toddler was pronounced dead at UCLA Medical Center.
The driver of the mini-van, a 42-year-old man, and a 28-year-old woman passenger suffered minor injuries. Three other passengers -- a 4-year-old boy, a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl -- suffered minor injuries.
They were all transported to UCLA Medical Center.
"The cause of this collision is under investigation, however, speed is believed to be a factor," according to a statement from the CHP.
Speed limits drop from 65 to 45 miles per hour at the tunnel, and the posted recommended speed in the curve is 35 mph. Traffic backs up into it frequently due to congestion entering beach parking lots just up the PCH.
The CHP said the McClure Tunnel westbound was closed for approximately six hours for the collision investigation.
Early today, skid marks and remnants of firefighting foam coated the tunnel lanes, as traffic heading to the beaches of Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades and Malibu whizzed through.