Banana truck overturns, bunching up traffic for hours
By: YVETTE URREA - Staff Writer
CAMP PENDLETON ---- A semitruck driver hauling bananas swerved off Interstate 5, hit a guardrail and turned the truck on its side early Wednesday morning, causing a traffic backup that lasted for six hours, authorities said.
No one was hurt in the 5:22 a.m. crash on northbound Interstate 5, north of Harbor Drive, California Highway Patrol Officer Tom Kerns said.
"It was horrendous," Kerns said of the traffic. "(It was) a very, very, very slow go."
The truck driver, Yervand Urfalxan, 32, of Panorama City, told officers he was distracted while looking at his paperwork and swerved out of control, Kerns said. The 1998 Freightliner truck tractor with a loaded semitrailer struck the right shoulder steel guardrail, then overturned and took out 200 feet of guardrail, Kerns said.
The truck, which was loaded with 48,000 pounds of bananas, blocked all but one of the northbound lanes, he said. Kerns said he was glad none of the bananas spilled onto the roadway because they would have created a terrible mess.
The bananas did have to be off-loaded from the semitrailer and disposed of so that the trailer could be turned upright again, Kerns said.
He said the bananas had to be thrown away because it was determined that they were damaged and bruised, and the Health Department does not allow them to be sold or consumed in that condition.
The truck driver picked up the bananas from the Port of San Diego and was taking them to a Vons in Los Angeles, Kerns said.
Traffic slowed to a crawl immediately after the crash, which affected Highway 78 and arterial surface streets, he said.
"It tested people's patience, I'm sure," Kerns said.
He added that despite the backup and the frustration there were no subsequent collisions or problems.
The CHP righted the semitruck and trailer, moved it off to the side of the road, and cleared the freeway lanes by 10:30 a.m., but traffic remained congested until just before noon.
Contact staff writer Yvette Urrea at (760) 901-4076 or [email protected]