HESPERIA – A Hesperia man was killed in a fiery crash early Saturday morning when his vehicle collided with a tanker truck hauling 9,000 gallons of fuel.
“It was like a river of fire,” said Deputy Brendan Motley with the Major Accident Investigation Team.
Shortly before 1 a.m., 19-year-old Jorge “George” Luis Salazar, Jr. was driving a Mitsubishi Eclipse south on 11th Street when he was broadsided by the tanker which was traveling east on Bear Valley Road, Motley said.
The tanker rolled causing the fuel to spill and ignite. The lit liquid flowed across Bear Valley Road into a drainage ditch and onto Outer Bear Valley Road between an animal hospital and an apartment complex, officials said.
Flames could be seen as far as Interstate 15, according to some witnesses.
Hesperia and Victorville deputies evacuated the residents of the complex as San Bernardino County firefighters fought the blaze.
Several residents and motorists heard the loud crash followed by a boom and attempted to assist the drivers of the vehicles, but were pushed back by the intensity of the flames and the explosions, according to Tracey Martinez, spokeswoman for the fire department said.
Firefighters were able to pull the 19-year-old from the Mitsubishi before the flames reached the vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the tanker was able to get out of his vehicle safely on his own, officials said.
Firefighters called on a CRASH truck from Southern California Logistic Airport to help extinguish the blaze.
The damage caused by the fire will require the area to remain closed for several days as crews work to repair the roadway, officials said.
Investigators are waiting to view surveillance video from the tanker truck in order to determine what led to the deadly crash.