Boron, CA Truck Looses Load Kills Six, Aug 1999


Boron (AP) - Massive concrete pipes snapped free from the bed of a big-rig truck and smashed two cars on a desert highway early Monday, killing all six people in the vehicles.
Truck driver Richard Sommerville, 59, of Riverside, was booked for investigation of drunken driving shortly after the 12:55 a.m. incident on Highway 58, California Highway Patrol Officer Todd Weichers said.
Sommerville wasn't hurt.
The dead included a family of four from Redlands;
his wife MELISSA, 25;
their son LONNY, 9;
and daughter SKYLER, 6.
The family was returning home after spending the weekend in Livingston when their 1994 Nissan Quest minivan struck the rolling pipes, the CHP reported.
A man and woman in a 1998 Chevrolet Monte Carlo were also killed. Their names weren't immediately released by the San Bernardino County coroner's office.
A portion of the Mojave Desert highway at Amargo Road, west of Barstow and east of Mojave, remained closed all day for an investigation.
Traffic was diverted around the site at Boron Avenue and 20 Mule Team Road, about 75 miles north of Los Angeles near the north edge of Edwards Air Force Base.
Sommerville was behind the wheel of a 1991 Freightliner when he entered a westbound curve and straps restraining three concrete pipes snapped, Weichers said. The pipes were 30 feet long and 3 feet wide.
"The pipes fell off the trailer and became airborne," the officer said. Two vehicles in the eastbound lanes of the highway were struck by the pipes, killing all six occupants "in a heartbeat," Weichers said.
One of the vehicles burst into flames.
Sommerville was driving for Tracy-based First Class Service on a run from Northwest Pipe Co. in Adelanto to Dixon near Sacramento, company vice president Jim Alves said.

Santa Cruz Sentinel California 1999-08-03