I-5, northbound 710 reopen in Commerce after fatal crash

File: An I-5 exit sign with an I-710 pull-through sign, northbound.
File: An I-5 exit sign with an I-710 pull-through sign, northbound.
formulanone/Flickr Creative Commons

A major Los Angeles-area freeway reopened Saturday night, more than 17 hours after a driver crashed into an unfinished overpass project, killing himself and injuring his passenger.

Caltrans says all northbound lanes of Interstate 5 southeast of Los Angeles reopened shortly after 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Authorities say 34-year-old Jose Antonio Garcia of Compton died about 2 a.m. when his red Dodge Magnum hit temporary supports for the Interstate 710 overpass, which was being widened.

Caltrans spokesman Patrick Chandler says Garcia was traveling on the Northbound 5 early Saturday where it splits with the Northbound 710 in the city of Commerce. He drove between the barriers in the middle and crashed into a support system of wood and steel beams that was holding up concrete. 

The falsework — a part of a bridge widening project on Olympic Boulevard — collapsed onto the car. 

"It had no impact to the bridge.The concrete that was poured to widen the Olympic Boulevard off ramp bridge had already hardened. So the next step was to remove all the steel beams and wood beams," Chandler told KPCC. 

Chandler says each of those beams weigh about two tons. The wreck closed northbound Interstate 710 lanes for about 14 hours.

"The bridge itself was already existing, it's a very extremely strong structure built to withstand earthquakes in the area so there was no damage to the bridge at all," he said. 

The contractor is finishing removing the beams during routine closures they've already had in place as part of the 710 pavement rehab and widening project.

City News Service says Garcia's passenger, a 23-year Los Angeles man, was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries.

This story has been updated.