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Chaos on California interstate after truck spills tomatoes

Four people were injured as cars skidded across the slippery mess Monday.
Credit: AP
In this photo provided by the California Highway Patrol is the scene where a truck hauling a load of the tomatoes crashed after a collision near Vacaville, Calif., Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. (California Highway Patrol via AP)

VACAVILLE, Calif. — A big-rig truck carrying tomatoes crashed on a California interstate Monday morning, spilling its cargo on the busy roadway. 

The California Highway Patrol said on Twitter that the truck went through the center divide on Interstate 80 in Vacaville, scattering the tomatoes and closing multiple lanes. 

CHP told the Associated Press that the initial crash was a collision involving the truck and two other vehicles. Four more vehicles crashed after skidding across the mess. 

Three people had minor injuries, the New York Times reported, and one person was hospitalized with a broken leg. Lanes remained closed for hours as crews cleaned up the tomatoes and put down absorbent powder.

Big-rig trucks hauling tomatoes are no unusual sight in California; the California Tomato Growers Association says during the height of tomato season, growers in the state produce 2 billion pounds of tomatoes per week. The trucks are uncovered to keep the tomatoes from being damaged in built-up heat. 

Regardless, officials told news outlets that tomato spills are usually much smaller as tomatoes fall off trucks — and certainly not large enough to close a highway. 

"People don't realize how slippery the juice and the tomato skins are," a CHP officer told USA TODAY. "Once they hit the asphalt, it’s like ice.”

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