Victim’s call relayed I-5 tragedy to loved ones

first_imgThose who died were so charred that coroner’s officials said they will need dental records to positively identify them. On Monday, Cibrian’s wife, Victorina, headed to Tijuana to recover her husband’s records. “It is really sad that he’s gone and that he’s not going to be here,” Campos said. “But we have him in our hearts.” Trucker Hugo Rodriguez and his 6-year-old son, Isaiah, are the other two believed to have died. They, reportedly, were from Fresno. “Isaiah was known as a little angel. He was always worried about his dad,” Jessie Bravo, Rodriguez’s cousin, told KABC, Channel 7. “I believe that’s why he went.” Truckers have long bemoaned the winding tunnel where the chain-reaction crash set off a booming series of explosions, melted concrete and sent flames more than 100 feet in the air. “It’s a blind curve, and when you are going into it, you can’t see the end of it,” said Wayne Waterman, director of safety at Los Angeles-based Dart International Inc., where Cibrian worked for seven years. “You don’t have enough stopping distance.” Investigators have not determined the cause of the deadly accident inside the 550-foot tunnel that routes trucks underneath the interstate on the downgrade at Newhall Pass. But for the stricken families, the answers are little consolation. Cibrian, 39, who had always dreamed of being a truck driver, worked his way up at Dart from driving a company rig to owning his own 18-wheeler. He was so proud that he often took his 12-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son on day trips. “He was a really sweet, funny guy,” said Campos, 21, whose family often spent birthdays and holidays with them. “He was never angry.” Cibrian was the family’s breadwinner and was generous with his money. He and his wife sponsored Campos’ quincea era, or 15th birthday, an elaborate coming-of-age party celebrated in Latino cultures. And he reveled in his family life, spending his weekends with his kids in their modest, one-bedroom apartment, dancing to Mexican ranchera music and joking. “He was like my second father,” Campos said. “He would give me advice. `Family comes first and (parents) are what holds the family together.’ I would listen to him because he was just the best guy you could know.” rachel.uranga@dailynews.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Cibrian had been heading home to his wife and two children in Koreatown when he called his friend from the curved, rain-slicked road about 10:40 p.m. Behind the wheel of his tractor-trailer, while watching the chaos inside the Interstate 5 truck tunnel unfold, he told his friend he was confident he’d get out. Then, he sat helpless as other semis slammed into the back of his truck. There was nowhere to go. “His friend said to break the glass window and get out. He couldn’t. Then (his friend) heard the explosion,” said Espree Campos, a close family friend who lives in Cibrian’s apartment complex and baby-sits his children. While unconfirmed, Cibrian is presumed to be one of three people who died in the 31-truck wreck Friday night that left 10 injured. And nine people who apparently escaped had yet to call the California Highway Patrol on Monday to say they were OK. CRASH: Truck driver, thought to be one of the three who died, could not escape his rig’s cabin. By Rachel Uranga STAFF WRITER Trapped in a tunnel behind a truck engulfed in flames, Ricardo Cibrian sounded eerily calm as he phoned his best friend moments before his big rig exploded. last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *