FRESNO, Calif. – Highway 99 south of Fresno – site of a horrific 108-vehicle pileup Saturday morning killed a 6-year-old boy and a 28-year-old man – remained a massive accident investigation scene Saturday afternoon.

The accident, which happened just before 8 a.m. in heavy fog, left clusters of crushed steel and broken glass along a one-mile stretch to Clovis Avenue. Dazed drivers and their passengers, those who survived the chaos with only aches and pains, milled around and tried to reach family and friends on cell phones.

The smell of spilled fuel and oil wafted through the morning air.

“It doesn’t look real,” said California Highway Patrol officer Paul Solorzano, a spokesman in the Fresno office. “It looks like it’s out of a movie, until you walk around and you see the damage.”

The names of the two who died in the accident were not released as of early Saturday afternoon. The Fresno County Coroner’s Office said the victims were in separate vehicles, and that the man was from Selma, Calif..

Officials at the scene said 41 others suffered minor to critical injuries, with 39 of them transported to Fresno and Clovis, Calif., hospitals.

The CHP said the one-mile highway stretch could be closed for another 12 hours.

Tom Jackson, 59, said he and his wife, Mildred, were on their way to Fresno from their home in Hanford. Mildred, 53 and a teacher’s aide, was going to a training seminar. They hopped in their car at 7 a.m. to have plenty of time to reach their destination at 8:30 a.m.

Jackson said that once they drove onto Highway 99 at Fowler Avenue, the visibility dropped to 50 to 100 feet. They slowed to 50 mph and stayed in the slow lane. Just north of Clovis Avenue, he said they saw vehicles stopped or stopping. He slowed down more.

That’s when he heard crashes to left of them and behind them. They managed to pull off the road and not get hit. Jackson saw another driver in a van rear-ended and taken away in an ambulance.

By 12:30 p.m., the Hanford couple was still waiting for permission to drive away from the accident scene.

“All we want to do is get off 99 and go home,” said a weary Jackson.



(c) 2007, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.).

Visit The Fresno Bee online at http://www.fresnobee.com/

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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PHOTOS (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): PILEUP

AP-NY-11-03-07 1953EDT


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