The driver of the first big rig died at the scene while the two other drivers were sent to the hospital with minor to moderate injuries. The crash sparked two fires and sent a mangled mess of debris, big rig engines and beer cans all over the road.
The CHP said they are investigating whether the big rig that caused the crash is the same one seen swerving on the highway just moments before the accident. "People called in a big rig initially because we believe it's this big rig there was some calls about a reckless driver in a big rig and so we'll be contacting those folks to see if it's the same vehicle or not," said Scott Harris with the California Highway Patrol.
"It was a really loud noise because my manager was in his office and he said he felt the walls shake because it was that loud. I mean they hit head on they were going opposite directions and I mean when we went out there the flames were already going and they got really high so it's a scary, scary situation," said Juan Alatorre with D&R Equipment Rental.
Investigators haven't yet released the identity of the driver who died. Witnesses who helped the driver of the big rig out of his truck say he was mostly silent and seemed in shock. Witnesses say the driver of the Honda, whose car appeared to be totaled, simply walked out of his car at the crash site.
Highway 99 was a nightmare for Tuesday morning commuters.
"We got help from a police officer and we were stuck in traffic for maybe two hours and now we're here at the gas station," commuter Lee-you Sayfong said.
Sayfong was with her friend as they were trying to get to class.
"I'm taking my friend to school and we didn't think it would take this long," commuter Celeste Lara from Porterville said.
Southbound traffic on the highway was moving at a snail's pace as many drivers slowed down to look at the burned wreckage.
"I heard a big explosion and I looked out my window and I just seen the diesel Like rolling, like it was exploding in my eyes," witness Maria Mendoza said.
The northbound onramp from Highway 198 to the 99 was also closed off, creating massive traffic problems throughout Tulare County. Those closures are now open.