Five people, including a young child, a pregnant woman and her unborn baby, died in a horrific crash at the intersection of Ham Lane and Vine Street in Lodi early Tuesday evening, police said.
Late Tuesday, officials said 12 or more may have been injured in the five-vehicle collision, but they could not confirm a specific number. Police said that several people were transported by air or ground ambulance to area hospitals, including St. Joseph’s Hospital in Stockton and UC Davis Medical Center, for emergency care.
Three of the injured were in surgery late Tuesday night, but their conditions were unknown, according to Detective Eric Bradley of the Lodi Police Department.
Bradley confirmed the number of fatalities. Children were also among the injured. Bradley said the ages of those injured and the extent of their wounds was not yet known.
The crash appears to be among the worst in Lodi history, drawing numerous emergency workers and vehicles and shutting off traffic at Ham and Vine for hours. As of 8:15 p.m., the intersection had not yet reopened.
David Durand, spokesman for American Medical Response, whose crews responded to the collision, confirmed that there were children involved in the wreck and they had been ejected from a vehicle during impact.
The 911 call came in at 5:21 p.m. Six ambulances responded to the scene, along with several patrol cars from the Lodi Police Department and three Lodi Fire Department trucks.
The point of impact appeared to be just south of the intersection of Vine Street and Ham Lane. Three vehicles were crushed together in a violent knot. One white pickup truck was bent so that it formed a “V” around the hood of another involved truck.
Several witnesses standing on the lawn of Lodi Middle School, facing Ham Lane, reported seeing a man in a tan SUV speed through the intersection while using a cellphone. That vehicle came to rest in front of the driveway to the school, facing north in the southbound lane with severe damage to the front end.
A fifth vehicle came to rest on the west side of the intersection, facing west on Vine Street.
The entire intersection was blocked off to traffic and pedestrians with crime scene tape, including about 500 yards north and south of the site on Ham Lane. Debris, including shattered glass, metal shards and chunks of bumpers, was scattered across the roadway. Emergency workers spread powder on the street to absorb oil, gasoline and bloodstains.
Four tarps were spread across the edge of the lawn in front of Lodi Middle. Paramedics used three to treat patients for scrapes, back injuries and bruises before loading them into ambulances. Another was used to organize medical treatment bags.
Two deceased victims lay under cover on a lawn on the east side of Ham Lane. Another was still inside the white pickup, covered by a yellow sheet.
Police are still investigating how the collision occurred. A major accident investigation team headed by Sgt. Shad Canestrino has taken over the work of analyzing the scene to determine exactly where and how the collision happened. That team is also investigating whether cellphone distractions, alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash.
Contact Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.