- Associated Press - Friday, August 15, 2014

SOUTH EL MONTE, Calif. (AP) - A 5-year-old girl was killed and several other people were injured in a fiery multivehicle crash involving three big rigs that shut down a Los Angeles County freeway for hours Thursday, authorities said.

The pre-dawn accident on state Route 60 involved a tanker truck that hit the center divider and overturned, spilling milk and fuel onto the freeway, California Highway Patrol Officer Francisco Villalobos said.

The girl was a passenger in a 2004 Nissan minivan that was rear-ended by the tanker truck, setting off a chain-reaction collision with 12 vehicles, a CHP news release said.

Two other big rigs crashed, and at least two vehicles caught fire.

Wreckage was strewn across the eastbound lanes. Crews cleared a huge puddle of milk that flowed into the westbound lanes.

Coroner’s officials identified the fatally injured girl as Maydelin Salas of South El Monte.

County fire officials initially said 11 people were injured, six critically. However, California Highway Patrol officials later said that in addition to the girl, 13 people were hurt - three critically and the others with minor to moderate injuries, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune (http://bit.ly/1rcCxMr ) reported.

According to the preliminary investigation, the milk tanker crashed into vehicles that were slowing or that had stopped ahead of it, and the truck then slammed into the center divider, coming to rest on top of it, the CHP reported.

Arriving firefighters decided to push the truck off the center divider and onto the westbound side of the freeway to prevent it from toppling over onto passing vehicles, the CHP said.

The accident closed the highway and backed up traffic for several miles. All lanes reopened about seven hours after the crash.

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