United States Highway 395 in California south of Olancha near Dunmovin became flooded late last night with mud and debris. Cars swerved off the road trying to avoid the raging waters washing across the road that ultimately injured three people.
According to Doug, a dispatcher for the California Highway Patrol, the call for aid came in at 12:20 a.m. regarding the incident in Inyo County. There was a call for aid for three people injured when they approached the rushing water passing over the highway; however, it is not known whether or not they were transported to a medical facility or treated at the scene.
An unnamed witness at the scene said he could hear the water roaring by; he compared it to the Truckee river that flows through Reno, Nevada. Although it was dark, he believes the debris field was at least 100 yards long and approximately three feet deep.
The witness had a discussion with the sheriff who was on the scene as he waited to determine what to do with his tractor and trailers; he claims the lawman said one car was “picked up by the waters and was thrown, it actually went airborne.” However, none of the cars were overturned or were buried; the mud was too thick and deep.
Familiar with the mudslide of 2010, the witness opined that he felt this incident was worse than before, from what he could tell as an observer. The 2010 mudslide occurred when the California Aqueduct became clogged with debris and overflowed.
A truck driver, the witness was just south of Olancha, when he noticed emergency vehicles driving past him some time after midnight when he assumed it was related to brush fires in the area. When he came upon the scene, he was stopped for nearly two hours before a decision was made to take his rig back the way he came, northbound on the southbound freeway.
The witness casually visited with the sheriff as he watched emergency personnel; they noticed there were no Caltrans (California Transportation) workers on the scene that night. According to the sheriff, medical aid had to come out Ridgecrest in order to treat the injured.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) confirmed the road was reopened this morning at 8:02 a.m. CHP is responding to a request regarding the status of the injured people, this report will be updated with details, as it is available.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) is responding to a request regarding the incident. Check back with The Guardian for updates.
By Dawn Cranfield
US News Special Correspondent