By Andrea Swayne
A man driving a stolen CR&R Waste Services pickup truck caused a three car collision at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Dana Point Harbor Drive in Dana Point just before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
According to Dana Point Chief of Police Lt. Lynn Koehmstedt, the suspect took the truck from the grounds of Marco Forster Middle School in San Juan Capistrano, proceeded southbound on Del Obispo and ran a few red lights before crashing.
A CR&R employee was making a delivery at the school and at the time of the theft, a dumpster was still attached to the truck’s hydraulic lift.
The other two vehicles involved were a van belonging to Haines & Cross Upholstery and Carpet Cleaning and a white Toyota Matrix.
The drivers of all three vehicles, including the suspect, were taken to Mission Hospital. All were complaining of pain but the extent of their injuries was unknown as of 2:30 p.m.
The suspect was arrested and in police custody during his transport to the hospital, Koehmstedt said.
A SigAlert was issued and traffic on southbound PCH was backed up past Copper Lantern well into the afternoon commute as authorities conducted their investigation and determined how to handle cleaning chemicals and supplies that spilled on to the roadway from the cleaning company’s van.
A representative from Haines & Cross quickly provided Materials Safety Data Sheets for the spilled chemicals.
Fire Department Battalion Chief Jim Bailey said that, according to the MSDS information, the hazards appeared to be mild to moderate but worthy of being evaluated by the hazmat team.
“Due to the nature of the spill, we have expanded the blocked off area around the van to ensure the safety of the responders and pedestrians in the area until the hazmat team arrives,” Bailey said. “Upon arrival they will sample what is leaking out of the van and determine how to neutralize the chemicals and clean up the spill,” Bailey said, while awaiting the team’s arrival which happened shortly after 3 p.m.
The Sheriff’s Department investigation is ongoing.
Following the suspect’s release from the hospital he will be booked into the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana and will be arraigned within 72 hours of the incident, Koehmstedt said.