Disaster avoided on Maryland Disaster avoided on Maryland

The end route of a runaway truck that traveled down Maryland Avenue, through yards and coming to rest inches away from the side wall of a home. Photo by Mary O'KEEFE

A runaway truck travels through the side yard of one residence

and stops just short of slamming into the side of another home


Safety officials say that tragedy was averted on Monday afternoon when a driverless dump truck near Valley View Elementary School traveled south on Maryland Avenue, plowing into the side yard of one residence and narrowly missing another.

A driver for J.A. Salazar Construction and Supply Corp. had parked his dump truck and trailer just above Brookhill Street on Maryland Avenue, facing south. “It appears the driver went to detach his trailer and the truck went down the hill,”said David Gould, district engineer for Crescenta Valley Water District.

The company was contracted by CVWD to work on the new pipeline placement. The truck, without a driver, traveled down Maryland Avenue hopped over the curb at Brookhill Street, mowed down the street sign and continued its way through two short brick walls then smashed into the side of a residence until finally coming to rest on top of that home’s patio. It stopped inches from the back of the house in the 3300 block of Burritt Way.

The residents were not home at the time.

“We were lucky,” said Fire Battalion Chief Tom Propst, Glendale Fire Department. The accident happened about 2 p.m. just before children

were released from Valley View Elementary School  for the day. Officials said the situation could have been tragic if the runaway truck had not taken the route it had and children  and parents were in the street.

The truck’s fuel tank had been punctured during its travels and firefighters worked on containing the hazardous material. Glendale Water and Power had to cut the electric cable from the home to the pole because the vehicle had bashed into the side of the home’s electric meter. James Owen was at home across the street with his father at the time of the accident.

“We heard a couple of loud booms and a sound like steel dragging across the ground. We didn’t come out because we have had so many trucks going up and down our street lately,” he said.

The area has had increased large truck activity due to the county and city preparations for flooding. One neighbor who had come out to see what had happened said she was worried that something like this, or worse, would happen.

“The trucks from the county and city are up here [a lot]. The drivers may not understand how to park on the hilly streets. And a lot of them drive really fast,” she said.

Like most streets above Foothill Boulevard, Maryland Avenue is at a steep slant. Residents are well aware of the dangers and remember to turn their wheels into the curb if parking up hill and away if parked facing down. Getting the truck out was no easy matter as it had threaded itself between the side of the house and brick and iron fencing. When Sunset Tow arrived on the scene the driver first attempted to drive the truck away from the home but that proved difficult especially when the engine sputtered and died. Plan B involved a skip loader, the tow truck and a jack.

The truck was finally freed without damaging the stylish brick pillars that continue to frame the driveway.

The accident is still under investigation; the cost of damages was not available as of press time.