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Dozens injured in pileups near L.A.

| Monday, Nov. 4, 2002

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Nearly 200 cars and big-rig trucks collided on the fogbound Long Beach Freeway early Sunday, injuring dozens of people, nine critically, and closing the highway for hours.

"The fog was thick and all you saw on the horizon was the cars piled up in both directions," driver Rob Ziegler told KABC-TV. "You could hear all the crashing and the banging. You could feel your car moving, knowing that other cars are still hitting you."

California Highway Patrol Officer Joseph Pace said 194 vehicles, including seven or eight tractor-trailers, were involved in two separate pileups. Some cars were buried under others, and some of the injured had to be cut from their vehicles.

At least 41 people were injured, nine of them critically, he said.

Dozens of cars, vans and big-rig trucks could be seen tangled together and littering both sides of the freeway about 25 miles south of Los Angeles.

Early morning fog may have contributed to the pileups, which started just before 7 a.m., California Highway Patrol Officer Douglas Kondo said.

Driver Manny Manuelos said he had slowed as a big-rig truck smashed through the center divider, but cars came up behind him at 25 to 35 mph.

"I see vehicles coming in back of me," he said. "I'm just, like, sitting there and I go, 'Oh, here it comes."'

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