INTERSTATE 10 — Drivers trying to make their way east out of Santa Monica on Wednesday were faced with a frustrating commute with cars backed up for miles because of a fiery crash that shut down several lanes of the Santa Monica Freeway.
Motorists took to side streets heading east, causing gridlock on major thoroughfares like Olympic and Pico boulevards. Traffic officers were assigned to the Cloverfield Boulevard off-ramp to help move motorists along and relieve congestion.
However, there was little officers could do because of the magnitude of the accident, which forced the California Highway Patrol to close down the eastbound side of Interstate 10 until roughly 1 p.m. Wednesday, SMPD Sgt. Larry Horn said.
“Drivers just have to be patient in a situation like this,” Horn said. “There’s really nothing we can do.”
The accident was reported about 5 a.m., according to the CPH. According to reports received by the CHP, a wrong-way driver was traveling in eastbound lanes just moments before the crash occurred. Two men in their 30s died at the scene, Villalobos said, one of whom was a Culver City police officer.
Traffic on the eastbound side was backed up to Lincoln Boulevard, Villalobos said, describing a backup of about four miles.
A short time after the collision, at least one vehicle was ablaze, and Los Angeles firefighters were summoned to the scene, Villalobos said.
All eastbound lanes were blocked, as were the No. 1 and 2 westbound lanes, Villalobos said. Also blocked were the transition roads between the 10 Freeway and the San Diego (405) Freeway.