On July 4, 2011, a fiery Orange County car crash occurred on the transition road from the Costa Mesa 55 freeway to the Garden Grove 22 freeway around 1:20 a.m. This single-vehicle collision killed the driver of the car.
The driver, 43-year-old Leobardo Montes, of Santa Ana, was traveling with six passengers in his vehicle at the time of the accident. California Highway Patrol stated that the driver was traveling on the southbound 55 transitioning to the westbound 22 when he lost control of his vehicle.
The car crossed multiple lanes and hit a light pole before coming to rest in a dirt embankment on the west edge of the freeway. Police said that Montes was traveling approximately 75 miles per hour when the crash occurred.
The vehicle caught fire immediately. The passengers were able to escape with minor injuries, but the driver was unable to get out of the vehicle. Although residents from a nearby apartment complex tried to help with fire extinguishers, Montes died at the accident scene.
All passengers were treated at area hospitals for minor injuries, and one passenger suffered a fracture to the arm.
The freeway was shut down from 1:20 a.m. to 4:45 a.m., as the CHP declared a SigAlert and needed to investigate and clear the wreckage from the scene.