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Big Rig Crashes Into Apartment Building, Waking Up Residents

by Jana Ritter - Published: 5/01/2017

It was a rude awakening for the sleeping residents of a California apartment building when an 18-wheeler plowed into the two-story structure at around 6 am on Sunday morning.

                                                                truck driver crashes into building

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“I thought it was an earthquake,” said Josefina Estrada, 40, who was jolted awake when the massive vehicle rammed into the second-floor unit where she lives with her five children. The shocking incident occurred in the 600 block of East Imperial Highway in Fullerton, CA where dozens of shaken residents and neighbors immediately started gathering outside the apartment complex gawking at the cab wedged inside what used to be the Estrada’s home.

                                                                 family unit destroyed by big rig

According to Fullerton Police Sgt. Jon Radus, the initial investigation has revealed that a Volvo tractor-trailer, belonging to Bhandal Bros. of Hollister, was being driven by a 44-year-old truck driver and a 42-year-old female passenger was riding with him. The truck was heading eastbound on the 600 block of the Imperial Highway and traveling within the posted speed limit when it suddenly veered from the No. 3 lane, struck the south curb, and then hit the apartment building. Investigators are still trying to determine what exactly caused the truck to suddenly and drastically go off course.

Fortunately nobody was killed in the incident but the truck driver and passenger were both transported to UCI Medical Center with serious injuries. Andy Castro-Aguilera, who lives in the complex and is CPR certified, immediately ran outside to see if he could help. He found the truck driver lying on the ground outside the cab and said it appeared that he had passed out. “I felt for his pulse and vitals,” Castro-Aguilera said. “Then the man suddenly opened his eyes and sounded panicked asking, ‘Where’s my girlfriend?’”

The Fullerton Fire Department surveyed the damage and couldn’t believe how lucky the occupants of the smashed unit were to survive this. Estrada only had minor injuries from drywall falling on her and her 2-year-old daughter who was sleeping in the room with her was unharmed. Her 18-year-old son, Christian was awakened by the noise and ran to check on his mother and toddler sister, and also his 13-year-old sister, Crystal, who was also sleeping in the apartment and unharmed. But perhaps the biggest stroke of luck was finding out that his 16-year-old brother, Jesus, whose bed was in the exact section of the apartment that was completely taken out by the truck, happened to have spent the night at their cousin's.  “I wouldn’t be talking to you right now if I had slept in my own bed,” Jesus said.

A 40-year-old man in a second damaged unit also suffered minor injuries and five apartments were evacuated. "A total of five apartments in the complex were evacuated, and they have been deemed uninhabitable due to safety concerns," Radus confirmed. “It’s a miracle that no one inside the building was seriously hurt.”

Anyone with information about the collision should contact Fullerton Police Accident Investigator Corporal S. Bailor at (714) 738-6813. Anonymous callers can contact Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1(855) TIP-OCCS or www.occrimestoppers.org.


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