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Vehicle apparently veered into oncoming traffic before hitting fire truck

November 23, 2010 |  8:32 pm

A small SUV appears to have veered into oncoming traffic Tuesday afternoon before it smashed head-on into a truck carrying inmates from a Los Angeles County fire crew, authorities said.

The accident on Highway 138 killed the driver of the Subaru Forester and one inmate and left several others critically injured, the California Highway Patrol said.

The boxy fire truck was carrying 12 inmates who were being driven by a county firefighter who serves as their supervisor. They were assigned to county Camp 14 near Santa Clarita.

"Preliminary indicators are that the white Suburu crossed the broken line, and the fire truck tried to take evasive action and collided and overturned," CHP officer John Lutz said.

He said the driver of the Subaru was between 75 and 85 years old. Officials had not determined the age of the inmate who died.

The accident occurred about 2:20 p.m. as the fire truck travelled eastbound near Quail Lake Road. County fire officials earlier said that the fire truck was struck by a minivan.

Late Tuesday, CHP accident investigators were at the scene sifting through the twisted wreckage and interviewing witnesses as they tried to piece together what happened.

Highway 138 remained closed in both directions -- westbound at Highway 14 and eastbound at Interstate 5 and Gorman Post Road.

-- Robert J. Lopez