CHP cruiser
A California Highway Patrol cruiser. Photo by Chris Stone

A motorist died and another driver suffered injuries Thursday in a fiery collision on Interstate 15.

The crash happened about 12:30 p.m. on southbound I-15 between Overland Drive and Rancho California Road in Temecula, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Officer Mike Lassig said three vehicles advanced in the slow lane when a tractor-trailer driven by a 47-year-old Bloomington woman slowed for traffic.

The victim, driving a 2015 Toyota Prius, braked behind the big rig.

Kevin May, 47, of Fontana was at the wheel of a box truck directly behind the Prius and failed to slow down. That caused his vehicle’s “front end to collide into the Toyota’s rear end,” according to Lassig.

“The box truck and Toyota became engulfed in flames,” he said.

The driver of the Prius, who was not immediately identified, was unable to escape the inferno and perished.

May, who bailed out of his truck, suffered moderate injuries. Paramedics took him to Inland Valley Regional Medical Center in Wildomar.

The big rig driver was not hurt, and the semi did not burn, Lassig said.

Murrieta Fire & Rescue and Riverside County Fire Department crews reached the scene within a few minutes and put out the blaze before 1 p.m.

Lassig said the investigation is ongoing and an arrest may be imminent.

CHP officers shut down three of four southbound lanes to aid first responders and clear the wreckage.

A SigAlert was issued at 12:55 p.m. for both sides of I-15 due to major traffic stemming from the crash. By 5 p.m., they opened two lanes, while two lanes remained closed on the southbound side, according to the CHP.

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