Traffic was back to normal Sunday on the Gerald Desmond Bridge in Long Beach after a fiery three-vehicle crash triggered by a wrong-way driver left one person dead this weekend.

The driver of a pickup truck was killed and two motorists suffered critical injuries in the crash, according to Jake Heflin of the Long Beach Fire Department.

A Mercedes sedan going westbound in the eastbound lanes crashed into a Ford Fusion and a pickup truck shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday, Heflin said. Firefighters and paramedics were dispatched to the crash, where the drivers of the Mercedes and the Fusion had to be extricated from their vehicles. Authorities were still trying to figure out why the Mercedes driver was headed in the wrong direction.

A police officer suffered a laceration to his arm while trying unsuccessfully to pull the driver from the pickup truck. The driver of that truck was pronounced dead at the scene, Heflin said.

Paramedics transported the police officer to a hospital for evaluation. The drivers of the Mercedes — which had a small engine fire — and the Fusion were rushed to trauma centers for critical injuries, he said.

The busy bridge was closed in both directions until about 3 p.m., according to Long Beach Police. Thousands of motorists were forced to find alternate routes away from the bridge, causing traffic tie-ups for much of the morning and afternoon hours.

—City News Service

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