HAWTHORNE, Calif. – Southern California's traditional Thanksgiving holiday traffic woes were compounded Wednesday when a flatbed truck carrying 55-gallon drums of hazardous materials jackknifed on a freeway leading to Los Angeles International Airport and shut down one side of the highway for much of the day.
The accident shortly before 10 a.m. quickly backed up traffic for miles on Interstate 405. At one point, the California Highway Patrol had drivers turn their cars around and travel in the wrong direction to the nearest exit to help ease the gridlock.
About two-dozen barrels of acetone and rubbing alcohol spilled onto the freeway about two miles south of an airport exit. The highway was closed for hours as a hazardous materials crew cleaned up the spill.
Four of six lanes were reopened by late afternoon.
The barrels may have been leaking when the truck went out of control and hit the freeway's center divider, said Ed Lozano, an inspector with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The truck's driver and another motorist were hospitalized with minor injuries, the Fire Department reported.
Traffic was diverted onto other freeways and roads, and people headed to the airport were advised to leave 90 minutes earlier than planned, said CHP spokesman Francisco Villalobos.