Five-Car Crash Closes Grapevine: Rock Band Hurt

  • Top, Honda smashes into bus carrying band. Below, A City Serene band members were hurt in crash.

    Top, Honda smashes into bus carrying band. Below, A City Serene band members were hurt in crash.

Compiled by Staff of The Mountain Enterprise

NEWS UPDATE (September 17, 2009, 8 a.m.)—The six injured people who were in the overturned converted church bus, struck by an airborne F250 pickup that flew over the center divider of the Interstate 5 on the Grapevine last Sunday afternoon, were members of A City Serene, a San Diego rock band that was on its first tour through California and the state of Washington.

Two of the band members are still in a coma, reports from San Diego say, and are in critical condition. Three others have been moved to the "serious" category, one may be released shortly. The driver of the pickup which caused the five-car chain-reaction crash, Troy Martinez, 38 of Caliente, is also still in the hospital.

According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the six band members airlifted to nearby hospitals are identified as Xander Bourgeois, 20, of Vista; Carly Baker, 19, Kris Renfro, 19, Michael Sherman, 22, and Marc Koch, 20, all of Clairemont Mesa; and Mike Buxbaum, 20, of Mission Valley. The band’s FaceBook page has an appeal to the band’s fans to donate funds to help with the hospital costs.

All northbound traffic across the Grapevine (and into the Mountain Communities) was stopped for two hours while emergency crews from eight agencies sought to aid the injured, investigate and clear the roadway. More about the band is available here.

Reported by Don  Eubank, Patric Hedund and Katy Penland

A horrific five-car crash sent seven people to hospitals and stopped northbound traffic on the Grapevine for two hours Sunday, Sept. 13. Two members of the San Diego rock band A City Serene were reported to be in comas.

The chain-reaction accident began about 3:25 p.m. about three miles north of El Tejon School when Troy Martinez, 38 of Caliente was driving south in his 2006 Ford F250 “at an unsafe speed” (according to California Highway Patrol reports). He swerved on a curve and lost control, jetted across the center divider, hit a dirt mound and became airborne.

The pickup landed in the northbound lanes of the freeway, colliding with two vehicles, a 2002 Honda Civic and the 1991 Ford 450 bus carrying the rock band to a concert in San Jose. The bus overturned and one person was ejected as it came to rest on its right side on the east shoulder.

Debris from that collision struck a 2007 Chevy Tahoe. A fifth northbound vehicle, a 1998 Honda Civic, could not avoid the overturned bus and smashed into its undercarriage.

The driver of the pickup and several people in the bus had to be extricated by firefighters with jaws-of-life. Six passengers with major injuries required air transport to local hospitals, according to CHP spokesperson Mark Ehly. One motorist was transported by ground ambulance. Four helicopters and two ground ambulances responded. Three passengers escaped uninjured.

Vehicles and passengers involved were from Vista, Caliente, San Diego, Atwater and Santa Cruz.

Both directions of I-5 were affected. Southbound lanes were closed for about 10 minutes to accommodate emergency vehicles, and all northbound lanes were closed for almost two hours, with traffic backed up for at least ten miles, beyond Gorman. The freeway was not fully re-opened until 6 p.m. Sunday. Motorists were out of their cars, milling and socializing during the long wait.

Agencies responding to the scene included CHP, Mercy Air, Kern County Sheriffs, Kern County Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, U.S. Forest Service, Hall Ambulance and American Medical Response Ambulance.

This is part of the September 18, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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