10.13.2019 | 3:36 AM | COSTA MESA – Two drivers were under arrest on suspicion of DUI after a series of dramatic crashes including a wrong-way driver and a crash into a patrol vehicle, early Sunday morning.
The wild chain of events began with calls reporting a wrong-way driver traveling northbound in southbound lanes of the SR-55 Freeway near Victoria Street around 3:36 AM.
Just moments later additional calls came in reporting the wrong-way driver had collided head-on with an SUV.
Officers arriving on scene located the wrong-way crash involving three vehicles and learned that a Toyota Camry was traveling wrong-way when it struck a black GMC Sierra which attempted to veer out of the way.
The Toyota was subsequently struck by a white Ford Expedition trapping both occupants inside the sedan. Both the driver and passenger of the Toyota along with both drivers of the Ford and GMC suffered minor injuries.
A full freeway closure was initiated while first responders attended to the scene and investigated the crash that was spread out over a span of approximately one-half of a mile.
Only moments into their investigation at around 3:52 AM a loud crash could be heard from the end of the closure followed by an ominous metal screeching as a white Nissan Pathfinder with its hood propped up careened full speed down an emergency lane.
Officers and a photojournalist on scene called out to warn those in the way of the speeding Pathfinder to run for their lives as the vehicle continued for nearly a half-mile and plowed into a patrol vehicle pushing it into a Jeep Wrangler owned by a nurse who stopped to assist with the initial crash.
Miraculously the patrol vehicle was unoccupied, and the Pathfinder missed striking multiple first responders and good Samaritans.
The first vehicle struck by the Pathfinder, a Nissan Sentra, suffered major rear-end damage however it was unclear if the occupants were injured.
The driver, later identified as 25-year-old Carlos Vega of Inglewood, suffered only minor injuries and could be seen crying before being placed under arrest on suspicion of DUI. He was transported to an area by officers for medical clearance. Vega’s vehicle was adorned with Uber rideshare livery and had a child seat inside at the time of the crash. It was unclear if he was on his way to pick up a fare at the time of the crash.
The Toyota’s driver, identified as 25-year-old Thong Nguyen of Westminster, was also placed under arrest on suspicion of DUI at a local hospital.
An extensive investigation into the crashes is underway.