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5 people dead after O.C. freeway crash

August 4, 2009 12:09:26 PM PDT
Five people died after an accident on the 5 Freeway in the Mission Viejo area on Tuesday.The California Highway Patrol said the SUV was traveling southbound on I-5 when the driver lost contol near La Paz Road and veered across all lanes of freeway. The Chevy Tracker rolled off the freeway, crashed down an embankment and burst into flames at about 10:30 a.m.

It's not certain what caused the driver to lose control of the SUV, but initial witness reports indicate one of the vehicle's tires blew out. It's also unclear how fast the vehicle was going at the time of the crash.

An eyewitness at a nearby restaurant ran over to try to help.

"I heard a loud explosion. I looked up and I saw the car veer off the freeway, hit the light pole," said Chris Ayala. "After it hit the light pole it kind of sent it, it did like two flips in the air, and from there you didn't see the car anymore. About 45 seconds later you saw the smoke coming up from the car."

The victims were trapped in the vehicle and never made it out.

"It was just smoking and then it burst into flames from the bottom side. It was on its, on the cab and nobody could get to it or nobody was coming out of it," said Jason Lopez, an eyewitness.

The CHP said all five people died inside the SUV. However, it is unclear if they were killed in the crash or if they died as a result of the fire.

The vehicle did have a California license plate.

The incident started a small brush fire that was quickly knocked down.

The CHP is looking for witnesses to the accident. If you saw what happened, you're asked to call the CHP at (949) 487-4000.

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