By Kim Minugh
The California Highway Patrol has reopened Interstate 80's westbound lanes, nearly seven hours after they were closed following a fatal collision believed to be caused by a bigrig driver who lost consciousness while choking on his food.
Two died in the last of three collisions; they have not been identified. The bigrig driver, who has not been identified, was treated for minor to moderate injuries at a local hospital, said CHP Officer Chris Parker.
The incident, which spanned both eastbound and westbound lanes east of the University of California, Davis, exit, shut down eastbound lanes for two hours and westbound lanes for even longer. Those lanes are estimated to be reopened about 4 p.m., Parker said.
About 10:30 a.m., the bigrig was travelling eastbound in the slow lane when the driver, who was eating, began to choke on his food. He told officers that he briefly lost consciousness, and his bigrig drifted onto the right shoulder before veering left, across all lanes of eastbound traffic, Parker said.
The bigrig then struck two cars whose occupants suffered minor to moderate injuries, Parker said.
The bigrig then struck the guard rail in the center divider and passed into westbound lanes, Parker said. At that point, the bigrig's driver regained consciousness, but "unfortunately it's not in time enough to avoid a head-on collision," Parker said.
The bigrig then struck a BMW, and both vehicles burst into flames. The occupants of the BMW died. The bigrig driver suffered minor to moderate injuries, including burns, and was transported to a local hospital.
Parker said it is not yet clear whether the bigrig's driver will face charges in connection with the collisions. That decision will be made by the District Attorney's office after the investigation is complete.
Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter @Kim_Minugh.
Photo caption: The scene of a crash on Interstate 80 in Davis near Old Davis Road on Thursday. Photo by Paul Kitagaki, Jr. / firstname.lastname@example.org