A car crash prompted triggered a radiation scare and a response from a hazardous materials crew, though the source of the radiation was ultimately determined to be a harmless took stored in once of the crashed vehicles, authorities said.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s and fire officials responded en masse to a reported crash involving radioactive hazardous materials about 1:30 p.m. on Huntington Drive and Las Lomas Road. The crash involved a sedan, a minivan and a parked vehicle.
Rescuers who first responded to the crash found the driver of the sedan injured and unable to speak, fire Inspector Scott Miller said.
“Upon helping him out, we discovered a box that said “radioactive.”
Deputies and firefighters immediately backed away from the box and summoned a fire department hazmat crew, officials said.
Inspector Keith Mora said a “hot zone” was established within 300 feet of the vehicle, in which only officials wearing protective gear were permitted to enter.
A convenience store near the crash scene was evacuated, and employees of other nearby businesses were advised to stay inside as officials continued investigating.
The hazmat team arrived about 45 minutes after the crash, Miller said.
After examining the box, officials found it contained a device used to test for radioactivity, Miller said. In order to work, the device possesses a small amount of “background radiation,” itself, though it did rise to the level of a health concern.
“That’s an extremely low level,” Miller said.
The 31-year-old man who was driving the sedan that contained the mildly radioactive device, who was “incoherent” immediately following the crash, was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in unknown condition, sheriff’s Sgt. Loy McBride said.
The driver of the minivan was unhurt, and there was no one inside the parked car, Miller added.
The cause of the crash was being investigated by deputies from the sheriff’s Temple Station.