Authorities Friday urged people to call them if they have information about a brief “takeover” on the Santa Ana (5) Freeway in Norwalk that involved nearly 50 vehicles and included motorists doing doughnuts in lanes and setting off fireworks.
The incident, some of which was captured on video that was posted online, was reported about 9:50 p.m. Thursday near Carmenita Road, said California Highway Patrol Officer Marcos Iniguez of the Santa Fe Springs Area office.
By the time officers got to the location about five minutes later, however, the motorists had left the area, Iniguez said.
The incident is being investigated by a multi-agency task force that includes personnel from the CHP, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Iniguez said.
Iniguez urged people with information on the incident to call the CHP Santa Fe Springs Area office at 562-868-0503, or email the information to him at Marcos.Iniguez@chp.ca.gov.
Video taken by KFI’s Rob Newton showed people walking in lanes and fireworks going off.
The incident occurred in the context of a decline of traffic volume as Californians have been observing stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People are … eliminating non-essential travel, and as a result, there has been a significant reduction in the number of commuters on the highways,” CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said earlier this week. “Resist the temptation to speed; drivers are easier to spot when they are on a nearly empty roadway.” Stanley said.
Preliminary CHP data show a 75% decrease in the number of crashes in California from March 19 to April 30, as compared to the same period in 2019. And the number of DUI arrests made by CHP officers decreased nearly 42%.
“However, not all of the state’s drivers have been on their best behavior during the pandemic,” a CHP statement said. “The open roads have led to a few brazen motorists testing the speed limit — and eventually meeting up with a CHP officer for a citation.”
Locally, figures indicate that less traffic on Los Angeles streets led to a 38% decrease in traffic collisions during the pandemic. However, traffic fatalities increased by 15% compared to the same time last year — and pedestrian fatalities have increased by 33%.
“We want people to get the message that they need to slow down and be aware of their surroundings,” said LAPD Officer Tony Im. “They are seeing less traffic, and they are driving too fast. And they may not even be aware of how fast they are going.”
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