LOS ANGELES Holiday cheer was transformed into rush-hour agony in downtown Los Angeles on Friday after a tractor-trailer hauling 42,000 pounds of Christmas trees overturned on a busy freeway exchange.
The accident early in the morning forced the California Highway Patrol to shut down the interchange for several hours, through the morning rush, while crews worked to clear the scene, CHP officer Miguel Luevano said.
"Luckily the trees didn't spill out of the (cargo) container, but it's a tight curve in there at that interchange ... so it's taking a while to right that trailer on back on its wheels," he said.
As a result, traffic on the Hollywood Freeway, a major commuter corridor through downtown, backed up for 7 miles into East Los Angeles, and causing a ripple effect of gridlock on other freeways and surface streets. The blocked interchange was not expected to reopen until noon.
The truck driver was taken to a hospital for treatment of cuts and bruises, including a laceration to his ear, but Luevano said the injuries were relatively minor.
No other vehicles or motorists were involved in the crash. "We believe it was a matter of speed -- he took it too fast and it tipped over," Luevano said of the rig's crash.
The truck was en route from Portland, Oregon, with a shipment of 42,000 pounds of Christmas trees slated for delivery to a Home Depot store in Redondo Beach, south of Los Angeles, when the accident occurred, he said.
(Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Greg McCune)