Three people suffered only minor injuries Friday in a crash that snarled traffic at a busy Lodi intersection and had onlookers and rescuers fearing the worst.
Around 1 p.m., a big rig was heading east on Kettleman Lane when it allegedly ran a red light. It hit a Dodge Caravan that was turning east from southbound Lower Sacramento Road, totaling the van and sending it into a spin. It came to a stop less than three feet from a larger van transporting disabled people.
The larger van's driver, Anthony Vincent, of Stockton, had just dropped off his passenger and was waiting at the westbound light. He said the lights were red, and then the turning lanes got the green light, so the minivan began turning when the truck struck it.
Vincent thought the minivan was going to hit him, but he watched as the driver appeared to pass out for a second, then regain her bearings and slam on the brakes just in time to miss him.
Four children and two adults - all wearing seat belts and sitting in proper car seats - were riding in the minivan, said Lodi Police Officer Ken Slater.
Across the street, Angie Corsaro was filling her car's fuel tank at USA Gas when she heard a noise and looked up to see the van spinning. She dashed across the street and was the first one at the van's doors.
"I started grabbing the little kids. I didn't know if they'd be comfortable with a stranger, but I wanted to get them out of there to the grass," she said.
Family members later hugged and thanked her repeatedly for helping.
Meanwhile, the big rig driver, Thakur Singh, 41, of Washington, had gotten out of his truck, then got back inside when someone started yelling at him. Witnesses questioned why he didn't check on the victims.
Slater later said Singh was extremely upset and crying, thinking everyone in the van was dead. The big rig was carrying a full load and weighed about 65,000 pounds.
Singh and the van driver, 31-year-old Danielle Schmierer, of Lodi, had valid licenses.
The crash slowed lunchtime traffic, with police redirecting vehicles for about an hour.