Toddler still in critical condition after 30-vehicle pileup on I-5

Firefighters carry debris from the scene of a multi-vehicle crash as the road is readied to be opened on southbound Interstate 5 near Gorman on Saturday. Dozens were injured in the pileup, and a horse died of its injuries, officials said. Dan Watson/The Signal
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A toddler just under 2 years old who was airlifted to Northridge Children’s Hospital, one of nearly three dozen hurt in a 30- to 50-vehicle Grapevine pileup near Gorman on Saturday, was still listed in critical condition on Monday.

“We’re still trying to figure out the cause of the collision,” Sgt. Michael Karr of the California Highway Patrol station in Fort Tejon said Monday, while confirming the child’s condition.

At least 30, and possibly as many as 50 vehicles, including a horse trailer hauling three horses, were involved in a crash that happened about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, when CHP officers responded to a series of traffic collisions on the southbound side of Interstate 5 south of the Grapevine at Gorman School Road.

A horse, one of at least three being transported in trailers, died as a result of injuries suffered in the same multi-vehicle pileup.

A 21-month-old child was the most seriously hurt in the crash. Four people were also left with moderate injuries, five with minor injuries and 22 others complaining of pain who were treated at the scene by paramedics.

Poor visibility

“We have multiple vehicles on fire with visibility at about 100 feet,” Supervisor Ed Pickett with the Los Angeles County Fire Department said shortly after 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We’ve got a whole bunch of stuff heading that way, and so far one patient is in critical condition,” he said at the time.

Multiple 911 reports were received about the same crash.

At 2:43 p.m., dispatch operators in Bakersfield and the Los Angeles Communications Center began receiving calls of “multiple vehicle collisions” in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5, between Frazier Mountain Park Road and Gorman School Road, CHP Investigating Officer D.C. Williams wrote in his report.

Sheriff’s deputies from Kern County and Ventura County, plus CHP officers from three additional stations — Bakersfield, Newhall and Buttonwillow — also responded to the crash.

It took investigators close to 24 hours to untangle the sequence of events that led to the crash.

Williams wrote in his report: “What we know is that there were at least three separate collisions” sending 14 patients to the hospitals including Henry Mayo Newhall, Antelope Valley Hospital and Holy Cross Hospital.

“Multiple vehicles did catch on fire,” Williams wrote in his report.

Horse trailer hit

“A horse trailer was hit, resulting in one of the horses succumbing to its injuries,” Williams reported.

“A veterinarian respond to the incident and took care of the horse,” Karr said Monday.

Although one horse had died, at least one other horse and possibly two other horses were involved in the same collision.

When it was first reported about 7 p.m., one of the horses had been rescued from a trailer that sustained extensive back-end damage, according to witnesses on the scene.

Water Cube

The fatally injured horse was later identified as the prize-winning horse, Water Cube, which, according to people posting a fundraising site on, was previously owned by Olympic medalist Michael Phelps.

The GoFundMe posters explain on the site that the horse owners were on their way to a horse event when the horse trailer was rear-ended.

The site was set up to help horse owner Whitney, her one-year-old son, Declan, and her client Laura.

Emails sent to the GoFundMe poster in an effort to confirm whether the child named in the GoFundMe post was the injured toddler airlifted to the hospital were not returned.

More than $22,200 had been raised by the GoFundMe site by late afternoon Monday.  Fundraisers were close to achieving their goal of $24,500.

By early evening Saturday, emergency personnel had cleared all traffic at Frazier Mountain Park Road off the freeway, according to the CHP computer-aided dispatch system.

The southbound lanes of I-5 were closed for more than three hours at Grapevine Road, from 3:16 p.m. to 6:32 p.m.

Alcohol and drugs do not appear to be factors in the crash, Williams wrote.

The investigation is continuing.

Caleb Lunetta, Emily Alvarenga and Ryan Mancini contributed to this report.

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