BREA One neighbor described hearing a plane crash. Another said it sounded like a freight train barreling down the street. A third felt their home shake, and thought it was the beginning of a big earthquake.
The impact of a big rig smashing into 14 parked cars jolted awake dozens of apartment residents around 2 a.m. Saturday along the 600 block of Birch Street. The truck pushed some cars into yards. One car was sent through a garage door. Others were spun into concrete fences. The road, sidewalk and yards were left littered with mangled fenders, twisted metal and shattered glass.
“You could hear very loudly the metal being crunched,” said Robin Nua, who lives in a complex facing the street. “My husband ran out to see what happened and saw my car smashed up.”
Nobody was injured. The driver of the big rig, identified as Gerardo Torres, 45, from Rialto, was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and possession of methamphetamines, said Brea police Lt. Darrin Devereux. Torres was booked, released on his own recognizance and ordered to appear in court at a later date.
The big rig was traveling westbound on Birch Street, a couple blocks past State College Boulevard. The driver told police he was traveling to Fontana from Los Angeles. Some fuel leaked from the rig’s gas tank, but it was quickly cleaned up by a hazardous materials crew.
Nua’s Chrysler Town & Country minivan sustained significant damage to its rear and along the driver side. She believes the car, which she’s owned for 15 years, it’s a total loss.
Ricardo Mendoza arrived home from work 30 minutes before the crash. He said he felt lucky to find a spot just outside his apartment for his 2008 Toyota Camry.
“I heard a loud boom, followed by grinding metal,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘please, not my car.’”
He ran outside and saw that big rig completely crushed the Camry’s trunk. The front was pushed into another parked car. “We don’t have another car,” Mendoza said. “I can’t believe this guy. How could he be so reckless?”
An estimate for the damage caused by the crash was not immediately available. Lois Yergensen is the apartment manager of the building with the most damage. A corner of a cinder block was knocked over by a car that was pushed by the truck. Another car was pushed through a garage door. However, she said there was no major structural damage to the property.
“It felt a lot worse,” said Yergensen, who also lives in a unit facing the street. “The entire building shook. It was very scary. We didn’t know what was happening.”
The truck driver was traveling with a Yorkie Terrier. The dog was uninjured. It was taken to a county animal shelter.
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