Wrong-way driver kills one on 210 in Claremont

One man was killed when a wrong-way driver in a stolen truck slammed into several cars on the 210 freeway just east of Mills Avenue Monday afternoon.

The suspect, identified as 28-year-old Nicole Thibault of Santa Clarita, reportedly stole the silver Ford F-150 around 3:25 p.m. at a 7-11 in San Bernardino, according to California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Rodrigo Jimenez. A two-year-old boy was still strapped to his car seat in the truck at the time of the theft.

The father and a good Samaritan tried to follow the truck, but lost sight of it. The woman eventually dropped the boy off on the side of the road in San Bernardino before fleeing, acording to Officer Jimenez. The boy was unhurt.

“I don’t think [the boy] realized what was going on,” he said.

Thre was no pursuit of Ms. Thibault, and CHP officers were getting into position to initiate a pursuit when they began receiving reports around 3:45 p.m. about the truck going westbound in the eastbound lanes, Officer Jimenez said. He did not know where Ms. Thibault entered the freeway going the wrong way.

She was traveling “at a high rate of speed” along the center median, Officer Jimenez said, when she suddenly veered into oncoming traffic, striking four cars.

One driver of a black Honda Accord, identified as a 69-year-old man from Fontana, was killed. Two other motorists suffered moderate to minor injuries, Officer Jimenez said.

Ms. Thibault suffered major injuries and was transported to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, where she spent the night in the emergency room and is listed in serious condition. She has yet to be charged with a crime as police try to piece together what happened.

The accident caused the eastbound 210 to be completely shut down during rush hour. All lanes were blocked throughout the night as the investigation continued, and were re-opened just before 3 a.m.

“We’re treating this as a crime scene as of right now because of the nature of her traveling the wrong way,” Officer Jimenez said on Monday evening.

Drivers exited off the freeway at Towne Avenue, and multiple city streets around Claremont, such as Baseline Road and Foothill Boulevard, were clogged with cars trying to find alternate routes.

Ms. Thibault remains hospitalized, and Officer Jimenez noted that investigators will speak to her about her motives and her mental state at the time of the crash.

Sheriff’s deputies in Santa Clarita have described Ms. Thibault as a local transient, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. She was most recently arrested on January 2 for failing to appear in court for a traffic warrant, and on December 19 for being under the influence of a controlled substance, the Signal said.

—Matthew Bramlett




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