BALDWIN PARK, Calif. - A helium tanker overturned Tuesday evening on the eastbound 10 Freeway near the 605 Freeway in Baldwin Park, and lanes were closed for more than three hours while officials worked to clear the scene.
One of the fuel tanks was leaking after the impact, the California Highway Patrol said.
All lanes of the eastbound 10 were temporarily shut down, causing a massive traffic backup on that side of the interstate. The north and south transitions from the 605 to the eastbound 10 were also initially closed.
The collision was first reported at 8:18 p.m. The driver of the semitrailer, which was hauling a tanker filled with liquid helium, lost control of the vehicle while en route to Kansas, the CHP said. Witnesses told investigators that the driver may have been speeding.
Speaking to ABC7 after the crash, the driver's wife said they were lucky to alive. Their pet Chihuahua, which was traveling with them at the time, was also uninjured.
"It sounded pretty bad," said CHP Sgt. Edmund Zorrilla, referring to 911 callers' descriptions of the incident. "Like, 'It's just mass hysteria, it's across all lanes, a spill, it's leaking out.'
"When we got here we were able to ascertain, OK, there's no injuries to any parties," the sergeant said. "It's just a helium gas. We talked to the driver immediately. County fire was already on scene, they told us this is not a danger now. So that's what helped us to -- within 10 minutes -- stabilize the scene."
Tow trucks moved in after a hazardous materials team said it was safe to flip the tanker right-side up.
"We do have a lot of collisions here," Zorrilla said. "A lot of times the big-rig drivers are coming at a little faster pace and misjudge, maybe, the turn. That causes them to overturn. So that's what we're guessing right now at this point."
By 11:30 p.m., the SigAlert was canceled and all lanes were reopened, according to the CHP.
The driver was not likely to be cited in connection with the crash, investigators said.