Rescuers: Big rig crash a minor miracle

LA CANADA, Calif. Rescuers responded to the parking lot outside Hill Street Cafe in the 1000 block of Foothill Boulevard at 6:35 a.m.

View photos from the bizarre crash in La Canada

A truck carrying 78,000 pounds of onions had managed to get over Angeles Crest Highway from Antelope Valley, lost control before Foothill Boulevard. The big rig got through the Foothill Boulevard intersection without hitting any other cars and crashed into a guard rail in front of Hill Street Cafe.

Waitress Daisy Gonzalez had just opened the Hill Street Cafe when she saw the runaway truck.

"Well I saw the trailer coming straight at me. He was coming really fast, and I just saw a lot of smoke, so I yelled for one of the busboys to come, and I moved all the way to the left of the restaurant just in case it came straight at me," Gonzalez said.

The brakes had reportedly failed, and the large truck careened down the hill. The driver, 43-year-old James Byne, somehow managed to thread the needle, steering his rig onto the narrow restaurant driveway and in to the back parking lot. Byne and his passenger are both from Florida and were unfamiliar with the area.

The truck hit several cars, but luckily, only one person was injured. A maintenance worker who was tearing up boxes in the back was hit by a brick as he jumped out of the way, and his injuries were described as minor.

Supply manager Simon Lim had just parked the cafe's white van when the truck smashed into it. Lim said all he heard was wind -- not brakes -- and said he felt lucky.

"It's a minor miracle actually, considering the popularity of the restaurant and the intersection it went through," said Inspector Paul Hartwell from the L.A. County Fire Department.

The crash damaged half a dozen cars in the lot, including Gonzalez's car.

"I went outside and saw that all our cars were wrecked," she said. "It's pretty bad, but it's just material."

Sheriff's deputies and the Highway Patrol are investigating the accident. Authorities said it is illegal to haul a load of that size up on Angeles Forest and Angeles Crest Highways, but they were unsure if there were signs that indicated that.


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