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It was a tragic scene recently when two mothers and four children died when their van caught fire after a crash on the 5 Freeway.

The six victims were in a minivan that was partially blocking the far-right lane on the southbound side of the freeway when it was rear-ended by a big rig traveling at 55 mph. The minivan rolled over and caught fire on the side of the road at about 3:30 a.m. Authorities said the van was packed with two Bay Area families – two children and two parents each. When the van rolled over and burst into flames the children and their mothers were in the rear seats. The men sitting in the front tried to save them from the flames but were held back by CHP officers. The two survivors were identified as Aaron Hon Wing Ng, 34, of San Francisco and Wei Xiong Li, 45, of Daly City. Both men suffered serious burns to their arms from trying to rescue their loved ones, the CHP said.

Could this have been avoided? We may never know, however there are some safety rules to follow if your car ever breaks down on the freeway. This minivan got into a minor collision with a sedan. So, the family pulled over to the side of the road. This is at night and can make it hard to see – they were then struck by a big rig, causing the vehicle to roll down the hill in flames.

If your car breaks down on the freeway or you have to pull over for any reason, follow these safety rules to keep you and your family as safe as possible:

  • Do not try to flag down other vehicles, i.e., don’t solicit the help of passing motorists.
  • Raise the vehicle’s hood and tie something white to the radio antenna or hang it out the window so police officers or tow truck operators will know help is needed.
  • Don’t stand behind or next to the vehicle.
  • If you are partially still on the road, exit your vehicle and stand as far away as possible in a safe location while waiting for help.
  • Pull over and out of traffic if possible. Even if all of the emergency lights are activated, some highway drivers do not pay close attention and could rear-end the disabled fleet vehicle, causing further damage or injury.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected by this tragic accident.

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