The accused wrongway driver blamed for a nine-vehicle, chain-reaction crash that injured 11 people on the northbound Antelope Valley (14) Freeway in Agua Dulce this week was arraigned in San Fernando Wednesday on four felony counts of violating Vehicle Code section 23153(a), driving under the influence causing injury and pleaded not guilty. He will return to court for another hearing on June 27.
Rick Allen Walker, 54, of Canyon Country suffered lacerations in Monday’s crash, according to the California Highway Patrol. He was treated for his injuries, and then booked into the CHP’s Newhall station. He is currently in county jail with a bail of $430,000, according to the L.A. District Attorney’s office.
The smash-up, which scattered debris and damaged vehicles across all lanes of the northbound freeway, created at least a three-mile long traffic backup and left hundreds of motorists stranded for a time. Three of the injured were hospitalized Monday in critical condition.
The crash took place at 4:36 p.m. Monday at Vasquez Rocks, just south of Escondido Canyon, according to a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher and the CHP.
According to the CHP’s accident report, Walker was given a sobriety test at the scene and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of methamphetamine.
The CHP said Walker entered the northbound lanes of the 14 Freeway heading south going an estimated 85 miles per hour, passed two CHP officers stopped at an accident site, then crashed head-on into a Dodge 2500 pickup driven by 48-year-old Fernando Cedeno of Lancaster, who suffered major injuries, including a compound fracture of his right arm.
The collision triggered a chain reaction crash that eventually involved nine vehicles and left 11 people injured. The CHP reported that, in addition to Walker and Cedeno, the injured included:
• Myisha Hatfied, 36, of Lancaster, who was driving a 2008 Infiniti. She suffered minor injuries and complained of pain.
• Alanna Grant, 36, of Lancaster, a passenger in Hatfield’s Infiniti. She suffered minor injuries and complained of pain.
• Fernando Lopez, 48, also of Lancaster, was in a 1998 Toyota Tacoma pickup and suffered major injuries, including a compound fracture of his left arm.
• David Becker, 53, of Palmdale, was driving a GMC Sonoma pickup. He suffered major injuries including a broken back and was transported to Henry Mayo Hospital in Valencia.
• Maryann Looram, 59, also of Palmdale, was driving a 2001 Honda Accord. Like Becker, she suffered a broken back in the crash and was also transported to Henry Mayo Hospital.
• Thomas Schroeder, 56, of Palmdale, was driving a 2007 Honda Civic. He suffered minor injuries and complained of back pain.
• Francisco Cerda, 59, of Palmdale, was a passenger in Schroeder’s Honda Civic. He suffered minor injuries and complained of lower back pain.
• Ashley Hauser, 34, of Lancaster, was driving a 2010 Toyota Corolla. She suffered major injuries that included a dislocated shoulder and abdominal bleeding and was airlifted to Antelope Valley Hospital.
• Volodymyr Smolianyi, 47, of Vernon Hills. He was driving a 2009 Volvo three-axle truck tractor and was believed to have suffered minor injuries.
Walker and two critically injured drivers—Cedeno and Hauser—were airlifted to Antelope Valley Hospital by an L.A. County Fire Department helicopter.